Consuming Latin America: The ¡Viva! Film Festival and Imagined Cosmopolitan Communities

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Nicola Astudillo-Jones


This thesis examines how Latin America is produced and consumed through the ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival in Manchester and how people who do not have Latin American origins (subsequently 'non-Latin American') use Latin American culture to reconcile issues of self-identity and cosmopolitanism at a local level. Extending Dina Iordanova's (2010) application of imagined communities to film festivals beyond diaspora, a framework of imagined cosmopolitan communities finds that, through consumption of the ¡Viva! film festival, non-Latin American consumers can often feel a sense of belonging or connection to Latin American people and culture. Non-Latin American ¡Viva! consumers subsequently incorporate Latin American culture and identity within their own construction of self-identity in order to reaffirm their sense of self. Using a mixed methods approach which brings together qualitative research (including a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews) with media analysis, this thesis finds that the incorporation of Latin American identity into non-Latin American self-identity is facilitated, in part, by the way in which Latin America has been encoded at a discursive level in the UK in recent decades through magical realism and associated codes, themes and narratives concerning the region's bizarre, crazy, strange and surreal characteristics. Applying theories of encoding and decoding (Hall, 1980), the ¡Viva! film festival and its non-Latin American audience members are found to likewise construct Latin America in these terms, as different, but not too different from British cultural norms. This interpretive framework, along with the fact that Latin Americans are largely positioned outside of the increasingly hostile rhetoric towards migrants and ethnic minorities in the UK, facilitates the incorporation of a Latin American identity within non-Latin American consumers' construction of self-identity. Scholars have suggested that cosmopolitanism demands a transformation in self-understanding in addition to an openness towards the cultural Other (Delanty, 2009). Analysis of the ¡Viva! film festival subsequently reveals a nuanced form of cosmopolitanism in which the Self is transformed through the incorporation of the Latin American cultural Other and offers an insight into the changing nature of the cultural relationship between Latin America and the UK. Latin America has typically been constructed as embodying the unconscious fears and desires of British (and western) culture (Beasley-Murray, 2003; Foster, 2009). This thesis finds instead that Latin America is being reconfigured by non-Latin American consumers of the ¡Viva! film festival as an equally formative part of their conscious identity that completes their sense of self and of being cosmopolitan in an attempt to resist and challenge contemporary scepticism and rhetoric in the UK surrounding multiculturalism, immigration and ethnic minorities.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2016