This essay focuses on the role of the Left—as idea, as subject, as method, and as political praxis—in Latin American cultural studies. It briefly traces some of the key connections between Latin American cultural studies and Left politics to give readers less familiar with the field a sense of how these traditions have developed in relation to key historical shifts. It then moves to consider some of the current challenges to the Left work of Latin American cultural studies, especially as articulated in response to neoliberal forms of capital. The essay argues that Latin American cultural studies has had to confront the ways in which neoliberalism, as both ideology and economy, necessarily adjusts the ontological frameworks—such as the working class, the subaltern, the nation, the popular, the post-colonial, and “the people”—that have tended to organize Left political resistance. Given the fact that neoliberalism emerged as a force for social restructuring in Latin America at least a decade prior to its appearance in the United States and Europe, some of the insights of Latin American cultural studies scholars might well offer productive critical avenues for cultural studies scholars working outside the Latin American context.

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