I define nation as a cultural community made up of people who live within the same territorial boundaries, share a common set of cultural myths, national language or languages, obey the same laws of the land, and respond to the same symbols created by the state for unifying and identifying their nation-state (following Fossum, 2003: p. 5). An important aspect of understanding national identity, especially in the 20th century, is the concept of nation building — the process of integrating marginal people into the national societal and economic framework. Nation building includes forging social cohesion, national unity, and solid national institutions within a stable political system, and also promoting development and other economic and cultural processes aimed at establishing a certain recognizable national identity for most citizens of the land (Martin-Barbero, 1993; Koonings and Kruijt, 1999).
Latin American societies began their nation building process in the 19th century after gaining independence from Spain and Portugal; and throughout the 20th century, nation-states have been trying to consolidate their national identities. Today the process continues accompanied by the political, economic, and social conflicts that have persisted throughout the 20th century. In many countries during the 20th century, governments first used cinema and later television in nation building processes where goals of modernization significantly intertwined with goals of strengthening national identity (López, 2000; Simis, 2002). However, since cinema arrived in Latin America as an import from Europe and the United States, it has also contributed to fostering neocolonial economic, technological and cultural dependency. Not only in terms of media but also in many other ways, newly independent countries have continued as peripheries of European powers and the United States (Paranaguá, 1985; Shohat and Stam, 1994; Miller, Govil, McMurrin, Maxwell, and Wang, 2005).
---Gabriela Martínez, "Cinema law in Latin America: Brazil, Peru and Colombia." (Jump Cut #50: Spring 2008)
Works Cited in this excerpt:
Fossum, J.E. (2003). The transformation of the nation-state: Why compare the EU and Canada? ARENA Working Papers WP 01/19 www.arena.uio.no/publications
Koonings, K. & Kruijt, D. (Ed.) (1999). Societies of Fear: The legacy of civil war, violence and terror in Latin America. New York: Zed Books.
López, A.M. (2000). Early cinema and modernity in Latin America. In Cinema Journal 40, No. 1, Fall 2000 (pp 48-78). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
Martin-Barbero, J. (1993). Communication, culture and hegemony: From the media to mediations. London & New York: Sage.
Miller, T., Govil, N., McMurrin, J., Maxwell, R., & Wang, T. (2005). Global Hollywood 2. London: British Film Institute.
Paranaguá, P. (1985). Cinema na América Latina: Longe de Deus e perto de Hollywood. Porto Alegre, Brasil: L&PM.
Shohat, E. & Stam, R. (1994). Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. New York: Routledge.
Simis, A. (2002). Movies and moviemakers under Vargas. In Latin American Perspectives 2002; 29; 106 (pp 106-114). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.