Violent Visions

Representations of Violence in Contemporary
Latin American Urban Cinema

Abstract: This paper attempts to understand the linkages between the massive upsurge of urban cinema in Latin America and what has been termed the "power geometry" of global capitalism. I argue that the representations of violence in this cinema are, at one level, symptomatic of a dissimulated yet thoroughly systemic violence. I then attempt to complicate "reflective" models of media representation in order to argue that Latin American cinema is placed in an ambiguously constitutive and disruptive relationship to the violent, disembedding forces of globalization and deterritorialization. The paper illustrates these arguments with recent urban films from Argentina, Colombia, and México. (Contains film clips.)*

  1. Introduction
  2. Defetishizing the Spectacle
  3. The Violence of Globalization
  4. Argentina: Pizza, birra, faso
  5. Colombia: La virgen de los sicarios
  6. México: Amores perros
  7. Bibliography

This paper was first presented at the Cambridge International Studies Association conference on 'Popular Culture and the Political Discourse of Violence', University of Cambridge, 18th May 2002.  


Still from publicity for La virgen de los sicarios
Violence and prayer: still from the DVD presentation of La virgen de los sicarios


Please send your comments to Dr Geoffrey Kantaris. This document was updated 18-11-2002.
An early version of this paper was originally presented in the one-day conference of the Centre for International Studies entitled "Popular Culture and the Political Discourse of Violence", 18th May 2002. Subsequently, a full version was presented to the Latin American Studies seminar of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Manchester, 22nd October 2002, and to the Hispanic Research Seminar of the University of Cambridge, 23rd October 2002.

*Important notice: the pages, stills, and video clips reproduced on this web site constitute both "Criticism and Review" and "Research" as defined by the United Kingdom Copyright Designs and Patents Act of 1988.