When Americans think of cultural products of Mexico, they normally mention items such as tacos, mariachi bands, and the sombrero. However, the country has much more to present than the wonderful yet sometimes superficial artifacts widely known in the United States. One example is the visual arts, and more specifically, muralism.
Seven Miss Universe, six Miss World, seven Miss International, and two Miss Earth titles have made Venezuela one of the top countries to produce the most “Misses” in the world. Many other countries around the world also value these international beauty pageants and also rank high in international pageant winners including the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Puerto Rico1.
Those familiar with the traditions of mariachi bands in Mexico know that they usually consist exclusively of male musicians. Yet, Flor de Toloache, an all-women mariachi band based in New York City, is changing the face of mariachi in many ways.
In the late 1960s, as the Latin American Boom masters exported magic realist narratives to the international literary market, young Mexican Onda writers imported the international counterculture into their writing in an attempt to question paradigms of self, representation, and language. Among the signifiers that codified the 1960s counterculture, the drug experience, along with rock music, opened possibilities for social and literary experimentation.
The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign has been unusually focused on Mexico. This is in large part due to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between Mexico and the United States and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. In one particularly controversial campaign intervention, the Republican nominee suggested that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a “Mexican” would be unable to impartially judge a legal case involving one of the candidate’s business ventures. Judge Curiel was, in fact, born in Indiana to naturalized U.S. citizens from Mexico.
Ranchera, a style of music that grew out of the Mexican revolution, highlights the beauty and simplicity of Mexican life for all citizens. Known for its drama, passion and patriotism, this style of music elicits images of Mexican ranch life. The most famous ranchera singer is inarguably Vicente Fernandez, who has become a national icon in Mexico in the same manner as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley in the U.S.(1).
To many, the topic of plant varieties holds little interest. However, in countries like Mexico, the many different types of corn cultivated in the past are deeply ingrained in the culture, history, and traditions today. Corn originated in Mexico, and the beginnings of its cultivation nearly 9,000 years ago completely changed the way people eat1. Civilizations like the Maya, Olmec, Aztec, and Inca all have gods and legends that involve corn.
In the southern state of Oaxaca, in the town of Juchitán, lives indigenous Zapotec men, women, and muxes. Juchitán is a small town where a man wearing a dress would not necessarily be called transgender--there, they could also be considered a muxe (MOO-shay). Muxes are neither man nor woman, they are identified as a separate category of gender, some call it a third gender. Generally, muxes are assigned as male at birth, but dress or act in a feminine way.
There have long been Muslim and Arab populations in Latin America, but few people are aware of the sheer number of Arab descendants in the region. In fact, Latin America has the largest number of Arabs outside of the Middle East, with anywhere between 17 to 30 million people.1 In order to gain a full picture of this aspect the region’s demographics, one must first look back to the time of Columbus’ first voyage to the new world in 1492. In the same year, the Moors, as the Muslim communities were called, were defeated in Spain and Christianity ruled once again.
Walls, holes, and mountains—everyday rarities of the physical environment known to stymie our progress—have all served as apt metaphors with which to express our frustration when encountering difficulties.