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The Department of Modern Languages & Linguistics Speaker Series Presents:
Guest Speaker: Dr. Omar Rodriguez (University of Lethbridge)
Topic: The Inevitable Appleal of Melodrama in Latin American Politics
Day/Date: Wednesday, November 27th, 2019
Time: 2 to 3 p.m.
In his 2012 political campaign Hugo Chávez’s slogan was “Chávez corazón de mi patria” (Chávez heart of my fatherland). A few months later Nicolas Maduro, Chávez’s successor, used the phrase “Desde mi corazón” (From my heart) in his 2013 campaign. This emphasis on emotions, combined with a call for extreme political polarization manifested in other elements of the campaigns, suggests a discursive strategy based on what scholars have called the "melodramatic project". The merging of melodrama and politics is not unique to Venezuelan politicians. We can identify similar tactics in the communication strategy of other recent Latin American presidents like Álvaro Uribe (Colombia), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Cristina Fernández (Argentina) and Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil). In this talk, I will concentrate on the Venezuelan example to argue that the appeal of melodrama is not new, that it can be traced to nineteenth and early twentieth century national romances and that it is linked to the region’s perennial sense of crisis. Ultimately, I propose that the love affair between melodrama and politics in Latin America originates from the recognition of emotions as a legitimate response for organizing and understanding the complexities of social life.