Mocking the Status Quo: Sociopolitical Humor and Satire in Latin America (Conference)

Marcelo Borges's picture
Call for Papers
June 24, 2016
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Literature, Mexican History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies

Sociopolitical humor and satire have a long tradition in Latin America. Since the nineteenth century, a variety of artists and writers have contributed to its development. Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913), whose satirical broadsides and calaveras or “skulls” provided a critical portrayal of social, cultural, and political tensions in Mexico during the Porfiriato and the beginning of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, is considered one of the founding figures of this tradition. Many other figures took this tradition in different directions up to the present. The growth in newspaper circulation and popular media during the twentieth century created new outlets for social and political humor and satire, especially in the form of political and comic cartoons. Published in newspapers and in popular graphic publications such as Tia Vicenta and Humor Registrado in Argentina, O Pasquim in Brazil, and Monos y Monadas in Peru, among others, graphic humor became the vehicle of commentary of dominant social conventions and it provided a space to challenge and subvert political structures. In addition to graphic humorists, radio and TV performers have also contributed to the genre. The list of artists, writers, and performers who have followed in Posada’s footsteps is long and rich in discursive perspectives, media choices and aesthetic representations—as varied as Quino’s Mafalda, the controversial cartoons of Bonil (Javier Bonilla), the sketches of the long-running Venezuelan show Radio Rochela, and the international TV phenomenon CQC or Caiga quien caiga/Caia quem caia. Publication and performance outlets have increased and audiences have diversified with new media and digital content. 

The Trout Gallery—the art museum at Dickinson College—will present José Guadalupe Posada and the Broadside in Early Twentieth-Century Mexico. This exhibition features over sixty works of graphic art by Posada and his contemporaries, including many of his best known images of calaveras, sensationalistic crimes, natural disasters, political prints, curious phenomena, chap books, devotional images, and game boards. It considers the meaning and importance of Posada’s imagery in turn-of-the century Mexico and its role in society. The exhibition is complemented by an extensive catalogue by curator Diane Miliotes as well as educational programs and a mobile application. For additional information on the exhibition see: The exhibit will open on October 28, 2016.

Dickinson College will host a two-day conference on November 5 and 6 sponsored by The Central Pennsylvania Consortium, as well as Franklin & Marshall College and Gettysburg College. This two-day international conference provides a forum to address the various and manifold developments in the fields of humor and politics in Latin America. The conference will provide an important opportunity to attend the inauguration of José Guadalupe Posada’s exhibit and aims to bring together academics working across interdisciplinary fields.

The conference key-note speaker will be William Beezley (University of Arizona), noted historian of Mexico and Latin America and author and editor of numerous books, including Judas at the Jockey Club and Other Episodes of Porfirian Mexico (1987), Latin American Popular Culture: An Introduction (Linda Curcio-Nagy, 2000), and The Companion to Mexican History and Culture.

We invite contributions that look at both the long tradition and the present of sociopolitical humor and satire in Latin America represented in a variety of media. Paper submissions are encouraged from a variety of disciplines. All critical and theoretical approaches are welcome.

Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

Humor and Free Speech in Latin America
Humor and Social Injustice
Humor and Comedy as a Political Subversive Instrument
Humor and Democracy in Latin America
The Political Limits of Humor
Satire and Caricature in an Age of New Media
Cultural Dimensions of Humor
Humor and Gender/Race/Ethnicity/Class
Graphic Humor in Latin America

Please submit 300 word abstracts in English and a brief bio by June 24th to conference organizers at

Conference dates: November 5-6, 2016
Place: Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA

Contact Info: 

Marcelo Borges, Chair
Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies Program
Dickinson College
P.O.Box 17713
Carlisle, PA 17013-2896

Contact Email: