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Refried Elvis: The Rise Of The Mexican Counterculture
by Eric Zolov
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Claudio Lomnitz, author of Exits from the Labyrinth
"Eric Zolov's Refried Elvis is an innovative, perceptive and empirically rich contribution to the cultural history of transnationalism. It is also a work that focuses on an aspect of Mexican history that has been treated almost exclusively by writers and journalists and that had not made its mark in historical discussions until now. Mexican nationalist obsessions with historical roots - with the Revolution, the Conquest, and the saga of the mestizo - have too often coincided with the American and European penchant for emphasizing only what is exotic or quaint. The politics of the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s, with its ambivalent relation to Americanization, to modernization, and to indigenous societies provides an exemplary antidote to the tedious and seemingly interminable repetition of these hopelessly outdated national images."
This powerful study shows how America's biggest export, rock and roll, became a major influence in Mexican politics, society, and culture. From the arrival of Elvis in Mexico during the 1950s to the emergence of a full-blown counterculture movement by the late 1960s, Eric Zolov uses rock and roll to illuminate Mexican history through these charged decades and into the 1970s. This fascinating narrative traces the rechanneling of youth energies away from political protest in the wake of the 1968 student movement and into counterculture rebellion, known as La Onda (The Wave). Refried Elvis accounts for the events of 1968 and their aftermath by revealing a mounting crisis of patriarchal values, linked both to the experience of modernization during the 1950s and 1960s and to the limits of cultural nationalism as promoted by a one-party state.
Through an engrossing analysis of music and film, as well as fanzines, newspapers, government documents, company reports, and numerous interviews, Zolov shows how rock music culture became a volatile commodity force, whose production and consumption strategies were shaped by intellectuals, state agencies, transnational and local capital, musicians, and fans alike. More than a history of Mexican rock and roll, Zolov's study demonstrates the politicized nature of culture under authoritarianism, and offers a nuanced discussion of the effects of cultural imperialism that deepens our understanding of gender relations, social hierarchies, and the very meanings of national identity in a transnational era.
About the Author
Eric Zolov is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Franklin and Marshall College.
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