Latin America in Focus


A key distinction of Review of International American Studies is its commitment to the notion that the Americas are a hemispheric and transoceanic communicating vessel. This angle provides a unique path to de-center the American Studies discipline, which has become tantamount to studies of the United States. This angle also expands the discipline beyond its traditional literary roots, inviting critical investigations into other forms of communicative media, such as cinema, television, and photography. Informed and inspired by this conceptualization of the discipline, this issue of RIAS is composed of several pieces specifically focused on Latin America, each of which employs a unique interpretive approach of visual media to, collectively and comprehensively, articulate how this multilayered cultural landscape manifests in our contemporary social imaginary.

The arbitrary delineation of the globe through the notion of ‘the western world’ has, seemingly, transformed the Latin American continent a no man’s land. In its vast extension, this part of the planet seems condemned to exist between two worlds. Despite being part of the western hemisphere, and despite its deep Catholic tradition, this vast region is surprisingly excluded as a member of ‘the west.’ Yet, it was neither placed in ‘the east,’ nor on the other side of the wall, when the world was politically, culturally, and economically divided by the Iron Curtain. This land’s perpetual homelessness might be due to its consistent political instability, to the weakness of some of its democracies, or even its colonial past, one that bears no relation to the Commonwealth of Britain, a belonging that placed Australia in the topos of the West. These reasons, in addition to others, have fostered an understanding of Latin America as being generally alien to the ‘western world.’

Being a no man’s land, deprived of a hemisphere, and broadly unintelligible by the general imaginary of the western cultural industry, this continent, populated by almost 700-million people, was traditionally subjected to stereotypes formulated during the twentieth century, and that remained unchangeable in this new millennium. Latin America has become, for the global imaginary, a place of military juntas, a vast lowland displaying desertic features, a tropical yet savage jungle, a poverty-stricken favela, and a land fought over by romantic revolutionarios.

Certainly, the question remains if the obsolete model ‘western world,’ the also obsolete ‘third world,’ or ‘periphery,’ and even the in vogue ‘global south’ would be able to embrace and reproduce a closer image of this heterogenous and vast continent, and by extension if this generalization is able to denote a set of multiple series of social diversities. We doubt it. This doubt encouraged us to gather diverse scholars from diverse academic disciplines to contribute to this issue of Review of International American Studies. And this doubt, which was at a first glance only intuitive, brough us to avoid the topic of identity and representation as the main theme for this journal’s issue. Our initial plan was to structure the series of contributions on some problematics relating to the photographic medium, a medium that is widely regarded as exerting an objective representation of reality, yet also places the pictorial representation on an undetermined semiotic field. The choice of photography was also a choice of intuition that we quickly abandoned since, in our twenty-first century mediascape, photography represents only one element of a fast and global visual stream that shapes and refashions the collective imaginary of the Latin American continent. Thus, we expanded our scope to include other media such as films, paintings, and any visual-oriented human expression that could provide insights on the complex and chaotic mechanism that formulates and constructs the imaginary on the turbulent entity that we call society. 


Introduciton; communicative media; photography; cinema; television; Latin America; the Americas; visual narratives; visual stories; visuality

Published : 2022-12-31

DuarteG., & BattinJ. (2022). Latin America in Focus. Review of International American Studies, 15(2), 19-23.

German A. Duarte 
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano  Italy

German A. Duarte is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. His research interests include history of media, film history, cybernetics, cognitive-cultural economy, and philosophy. He is the author of several publications, including four books, edited volumes, essays, and papers in international journals. Among them, he recently authored the monographs Reificación Mediática (UTADEO – 2nd Edition 2020), Fractal Narrative: About the Relationship Between Geometries and Technology and Its Impact on Narrative Spaces (transcript, 2014), and co-edited the volumes Transmédialité, Bande dessinée & Adaptation (PUBP 2019), We Need to Talk About Heidegger: Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies (Peter Lang, 2018), and Reading Black Mirror: Insights into Technology and the Post-Media Condition (transcript, 2021).

Justin Michael Battin
RMIT University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam  Viet Nam

Lecturer of Communication at RMIT University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Copyright Holder of the submitted text is the Author. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the RIAS websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). Any commercial use requires separate written agreement with the Author and a proper credit line indicating the source of the original publication in RIAS.

  1. License

The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license ( Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY 4.0 license.

  1. Author’s Warranties

The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.

If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution - By the same conditions 4.0 International".

ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).

  1. User Rights

Under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

  1. Co-Authorship

If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.

I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.