Category: Sixties

The True Impact of the Peace Corps: Returning from the Dominican Republic ’03-’05

I am an RPCV: a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. For me the Peace Corps was an intense life experience, above anything else. As I continue to reflect on it, I am struck with the many and varied ways in which it continues to affect my life. As a PCV in the Dominican Republic from September 2003 to November 2005, I lived, worked, and learned in a small sugar cane-dependent community two hours outside of Santo Domingo…

In the Shadow of JFK: One Peace Corps Experience

I am often asked about the Peace Corps by students and recent graduates. The most frequent questions are, “why join?”, “what did you do?”, and “what has it meant for your career?” Here is my story. My earliest recollection of international curiosity was in the fourth grade when Sister Margaret Thomas described her experience as a recently returned missionary in Bangladesh. In high school, my sister Mary went to Peru on …

A Review of Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age

As an immigrant trying to understand urban diversity here, I come back time and again to the U.S. writer E.B. White’s often-cited passage in Here is New York (1948) in search of useful clues. “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the …

A Review of Cave, City, and Eagle’s Nest: An Interpretive Journey through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2

The publication of Cave, City, and Eagle’s Nest is an exceptional achievement, bringing into the light a tremendously important but formerly obscure Mesoamerican codex or pictographic text. Analogies to the (re)discovery and interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls are not unwarranted insofar as the book marks the reemergence of a fabulous and fabulously significant 500-year old document—the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan N…

Making A Difference: Repatriating Photographs

I first learned of the United Fruit Company’s operations in Colombia, like many people, when I read Gabriel García Márquez’s 100 Years of Solitude and its description of the 1928 massacre of banana workers in Santa Marta. A few years later, I was researching United Fruit for my dissertation, and was met with a wall of silence when I tried to contact the company to gain access to its records. Several other scholars including Philippe …

Revolution by Osmosis: A 60s Remembrance

I grew up in the peaceful paradise of Costa Rica. I can picture myself as a 13-year-old in 1960, a rebellious teenager with little self-esteem growing up in the exuberant tropical landscape surrounded by mountains, volcanoes and the sea. The big commotions of the 1960s that would shake the world did not reach us. The first tremors that heralded in the Cuban revolution, student movements, Vietnam and the feminist movement …

Between Bombs and Bombshells: Students and Sexual Politics in 1968 Brazil

Of the many dynamic political and cultural forces that marked Brazil in the 1960s, one of the most remarkable was the effervescent student movement, especially during the momentous year of 1968. University students in Brazil had a long history of organizing politically and participating in national issues. However, the student movement of 1968 was unlike its predecessors. It represented some of the intense transformations…

From Selma to Salvador: African-American Echoes in the Brazilian Movimiento Negro

When James Brown released “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud” in 1969, little did he know that his music, his swagger, and his style would play a prominent role in Brazilian blacks’ struggle for self-affirmation.
Brown certainly wasn’t the sole catalyst of the Brazilian movimento negro, which has yet to experience a large-scale, organized black movement as the United States did in the 1960s. Yet, Brazil—the country with …

New Takes on the “New”: The Cinemas of 1960s Latin America

To judge by the proliferation of Latin American films on the international festival circuit these days—not to mention the colossal box-office success of works by Walter Salles (Motorcyle Diaries), Fernando Meirelles (City of God), and Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), among others—Latin American cinema would appear to be very much on the rise at the end of this first decade of the new millennium. Yet, while we celebrate its …

Art and Politics in Brazil: En Route to an Artistic Vocation

Right at the eve of the military coup d’état that took place in 1964, there was an ongoing debate in Brazil about the relationship between art and society. Many artists and intellectuals were interested in forging a cultural production that was ethically and politically significant, but not necessarily nationalistic or ideological, as the orthodox left had prescribed. Artists associated with these new proposals were criticized both by the left and …

The Sixties in Argentina: Political Repression, Cultural Vibrancy

In Argentina the Sixties arrived late. With mere glimpses of counter-culture and protest in the second half of the decade, those who participated in cultural and political change were silenced, forced underground or into exile by the mid-70s. During all these years, Argentina was ruled by successive weak military regimes interrupted from time to time by duly elected also weak civilian governments, inevitably deposed by …

Remembering the Power of One: A 1960s Economic Perspective

In a region with an unfortunate knack for being ignored, forgotten and subverted by world powers, we take another look at the 1960s and from snapshots we offer hope as the first decade of the new millennium draws to a close. We take a look through the lens of Raul Prebisch, former director of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) and subsequently founding Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on …

Sisters, Brothers, Young Lords: A Common Cause: 40 Years of Struggle and Remembrance

I had forgotten how young, defiant and determined we were. We saw ourselves as instruments of change, students of revolution. What we lacked in terms of experience, we made up for with enthusiasm and commitment. Viewing photographs from forty years past, we milled through the exhibit, scrutinizing photos, graying militants remembering, owning our pasts. Like many of those present at the gathering, I had carved …

Degeneration of the Sixties: A Look at Spain

I heard the expression “the sixties” for the first time in secondary school when my language teacher wrote the number 68 on the blackboard to illustrate his lesson on the difference between the verbs denote and connote. The first meant just that: to mean objectively; connote, on the other hand, involved not only the specific meaning of a word, but another meaning of the appellative or expressive type. Thus, my teacher …

Cuban’s Memories of the 1960s: The Ecstasies and the Agonies

The 1960s was a tumultuous decade in Cuba. For islanders, the decade began in 1959 with the overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista, the emblematic “triumph of the revolution.” It ended in 1970 with the disastrous sugar harvest, which ushered in the Sovietization of Cuba. In contrast to official history, a one-dimensional story of good versus evil, the three life histories related here portray close-up the ecstasies and the …

The Venceremos Brigade: A 60s Political Journey

In the spring of 1961, as a 14-year-old in Baltimore, Maryland, interested in current events, I read in the New York Times about Cubans fighting for freedom at a place called the Bay of Pigs, against a dictatorship that had hijacked a popular revolution. When the forces of good failed to triumph at the Bay of Pigs, I was shocked. A classmate of mine—a precocious member of the Young Socialist Alliance— told me that the …

The Institutionalization of the Cuban Revolution in the 1960s: The Failure of the Radical Experiment

“This time the revolution is for real!” Fidel Castro declared upon entering Santiago de Cuba on 1 January 1959. At that time few Cubans had pondered what a real revolution was and what its consequences would be. Almost all were elated with the downfall of Fulgencio Batista. Cubans from all walks of life exuberantly embraced the young Fidel and therebeldes. Two years later no one would doubt the revolution was, indeed,…

Bilingual: The Legacy of Che Guevara: His Significance in the Americas

An October 2007 article in The Wall Street Journal intended to deprecate Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the 40th anniversary of his assassination in Bolivia. Instead, the article was an unintentionally eloquent description of his significance in the Americas. The article, headlined “Forty years after, the shadow of Che still falls over Latin America,” reveals why the empire pursued Che with so much malice and assassinated him with so much …

Bilingual: The Crisis of the Scissors: The Paradoxes of a Revolution in Progress

In January 1959, the rebels who expelled the dictator Fulgencio Batista came down from the Cuban mountains with their long flowing hair, ample beards and necklaces hung with religious motifs. The image of those who liberated the island by themselves—with an unconventional ideology not found in the dominant doctrines—became an integral part of “The Sixties.” Some understood the Cuban revolution as a subversive …

Bilingual: The Red Year: Politics, Society and Culture in 1968

English + EspañolAt the beginning of 1968, when Che Guevara had been dead in Bolivia for only three months and five years had gone by since the missile crisis, Cuba found itself practically alone in the hemisphere, menaced by triple threats: the impunity of the actions of the United States in the Vietnam War; ostracism by the rest of the governments in the region; and the pressures on the Revolution to align itself …

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