Introducing Hyperworld(s): Language, Culture, and History in the Latin American world(s)

Paul Allatson
Jeff Browitt


This introduction to the January 2008 special edition of PORTAL engages with the processes by which, in the early 21st century—an information age of hypertechnology, post-nationalism, post-Fordism, and dominating transnational media—culture and economy have become fused, and globalizations tend towards the mercantilization, commodification, and privatization of human experience. We recognize that access to the technologies of globalizations is uneven. Although cyberspace and other hypertechnologies have become an integral part of workspaces, and of the domestic space in most households, across Western industrialized societies, and for the middle and upper-classes everywhere, this is not a reality for most people in the world, including the Latin American underclasses, the majority of the continent’s population. But we also agree with pundits who note how that limited access has not prevented a ‘techno-virtual spillover’ into the historical-material world. More and more people are increasingly touched by the techno-virtual realm and its logics, with a resultant transformation of global imaginaries in response to, for instance, the global spread of privatised entertainment and news via TV, satellites and the internet, and virtualized military operations (wars on terror, drugs, and rogue regimes). Under these hyperworldizing conditions, we asked, how might we talk about language, culture and history in Latin America, especially since language has an obvious, enduring importance as a tool for communication, and as the means to define culture and give narrative shape to our histories and power struggles?

Our central term ‘hyperworld(s)’ presents us with numerous conceptual and epistemological challenges, not least because, whether unintended or not, it evokes cyberspace, thus gesturing toward either the seamless integration of physical and virtual reality, or its converse, a false opposition between the material and the virtual. The term may also evoke unresolved contradictions between discourses of technophobia and technophilia and, by extension, lead to dichotomized readings of the age in terms of the limits to, and capacities for, political resistance. In our conception, however, hyperworld(s) is not contained by the term virtuality; it encompasses, exceeds, challenges, and devours it. The production of hyperworld(s), or hyperworldization, connotes acceleration and hyperactivity on social, economic and financial levels, the intensified commodification of human life, the time-space compression of communication and much cultural production, the re-ordering of social relations themselves over-determined by technology wedded to capitalist market values, and, as a result, the re-ordering of daily life, cultural expression, and political activism for individuals and communities across the planet. These processes and intensities mean that new modes of reading the interactive and contradictory discursive fragmentations of the current epoch are required. Thus, rather than regarding cyberspace simply as the technological hallmark or dominant trope of our epoch, we might make deeper sense of hyperworld(s)—the bracketed plural implying myriad intersecting worlds within ‘the’ world—by identifying interactive entry points into contemporary lived historical-material and imagined complexities in the Latin American world(s).

This article has been cited in the following:

Duarte Alonso, Abel, and Yi Liu. “Changing Visitor Perceptions of a Capital City: The Case of Wellington, New Zealand.” City Tourism: National Capital Perspectives, ed. Robert Maitland and Brent W. Richie. Wallingford, UK: CABI, 2010, 110-24.

Full Text:



Abreu, Marcelo 2001, Em busca da utopia kitsch: Aventuras nos pases vermelhos. Editora Record, Rio de Janeiro.

Allatson, Paul 2004, The Virtualization of Elin Gonzlez, M/C Journal, vol. 7, no. 5 (Nov.):"

Allatson, Paul 2007a, Antes cursi que sencilla": Eurovision Song Contests and the Kitsch Drive to Euro-Unity." Culture, Theory and Critique, vol. 48, no.1 (Spring): 87-98."

Allatson, Paul 2007b, Key Terms in Latino/a Cultural and Literary Studies. Blackwell, Malden, MA, and Oxford.

Amin, Ash (ed.) 1994, Post-Fordism: A Reader. Blackwell, Oxford.

Aneesh, A. 2006, Virtual Migration: The Programming of Globalization. Duke University Press, Durham and London.

Anzalda, Gloria 1987, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Spinsters/Aunt Lute Press, San Francisco.

Banet-Weiser, Sarah 2003, Elin Gonzlez and The Purpose of America": Nation, Family, and the Child-Citizen, " American Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 2 (June), 149-78."

Bardach, Ann Louise 2002, Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana. Random House, New York.

Baudrillard, Jean 1983, Simulations. Trans. P. Foss, P. Patton & P. Beitchman. Semiotext(e), New York.

Baumann, Zygmunt 1998, Globalization: The Human Consequences. Columbia University Press, New York.

Bednarek, Nicola (ed.) 2003, Cruelty and Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America. Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Brady, Mary Pat 2002, Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space. Duke University Press, Durham and London.

Chvez-Silverman, Susana 2004, Killer Crnicas: Bilingual Memories/Memorias Bilinges. Foreword by P. Allatson. Writing in Latinidad: Autobiographical Voices of U.S. Latinos/as Series, no. 1, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.

Cohen, Jeffrey H. 2001, Transnational Migration in Rural Oaxaca, Mexico: Dependency, Development, and the Household. American Anthropologist, vol. 103, no. 4: 954-67."

Coronado, Gabriela & Hodge, Bob 2001, David and Goliath in Cyberspace, Mots pluriels, no. 18: ."

Coronado, Gabriela & Hodge, Bob 2004, El hipertexto multicultural en Mxico postmoderno. CIESAS/Porrua, Mxico.

Coronado, Gabriela & Hodge, Bob 2005, Speculations on a Marxist Theory of the Virtual Revolution, Fibreculture Journal, no. 5: ."

Debord, Guy 1995, The Society of the Spectacle. Trans. D. Nicholson-Smith. Zone Books, New York.

Deibert, Ronald J. 1997, Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication in World Order Transformation. Columbia University Press, New York.

De La Torre, Miguel A. 2003, La Lucha For Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Demo, Anne Teresa 2007, The Afterimage: Immigration Policy after Elin, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, vol. 10, no. 1 (Spring): 27-49."

Eco, Umberto 1983, Travels in Hyper Reality: Essays. Trans. W. Weaver. Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York.

Egan, Linda 2001, Carlos Monsivis: Culture and Chronicle in Contemporary Mexico. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Everard, Jerry 2000, Virtual States: The Internet and the Boundaries of the Nation-State. Routledge, London and New York.

Fernndez, Damin J. 2000. Cuba and the Politics of Passion. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Fukuyama, Francis 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press, New York.

Garca Canclini, Nstor 1999, La globalizacin imaginada. Paids, Buenos Aires.

Garca Marquz, Gabriel 1987, Crnica de una muerte anunciada. Mondadori, Barcelona.

Haraway, Donna 1991, A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, New York, 149-81."

Hardt, Michael & Negri, Antonio 2000, Empire. Harvard University Press, Harvard.

Harvey, David 1989, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

Hoberman, J. 1998, The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.

Jameson, Fredric 1991, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Duke University Press, Durham.

Kearney, Michael 2000, Transnational Oaxacan Indigenous Identity: The Case of the Mixtecs and Zapotecs. Identities, vol. 7, no. 2: 173-95."

Lejeune, Jean-Franois 2003, Dreams of Order: Utopia, Cruelty and Modernity, in Cruelty and Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America, ed. N. Bednarek, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 31-49."

Lemebel, Pedro 1995, La esquina es mi corazn: Crnica urbana, Cuarto Propio, Santiago de Chile.

Lemebel, Pedro 1996, Loco afn: Crnicas de Sidario. Lom Ediciones, Santiago de Chile.

Lemebel, Pedro 1998, De perlas a cicatrices: Crnicas radiales. Lom Ediciones, Santiago de Chile.

Lemebel, Pedro 2003, Zanjn de la Aguada. Seix Barral, Santiago de Chile.

Lemebel, Pedro 2005, Adis Mariquita Linda. Sudamericana, Santiago de Chile.

Lipietz, Alain 1992, Towards a New Economic Order: Postfordism, Ecology and Democracy. Trans. M. Slater, Oxford University Press, New York.

Lyotard, Jean-Franois 1979, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Trans. G. Bennington and B. Massumi. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

McLaren, Peter & Pinkney-Pastrana, Jill 2001, Cuba, Yanquizacin, and the Cult of Elin Gonzlez: A View from the Enlightened States, Qualitative Studies in Education, vol. 14, no. 2: 201-19."

Milner, Andrew & Browitt, Jeff 2002, Contemporary Cultural Theory. 2nd edition. Routledge and Allen & Unwin, London and Sydney.

Mitchell, William J. 1999, City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infobahn. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Molina Guzmn, Isabel 2005, Gendering Latinidad Through the Elin News Discourse about Cuban Women, Latino Studies, vol. 3, no. 2: 179-204."

Monsivis, Carlos 1969, Principios y potestades. S.P.I., Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1971, Das de guardar: Sobre la matanza de Tlatelolco. Biblioteca Era, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1976, Amor perdido: Sobre figuras mticas del cine mexicano, la msica popular, el sindicalismo, la izquierda y la poltica. Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco, Guadalajara.

Monsivis, Carlos (ed.) 1978, A ustedes les consta. Antologa de la crnica en Mxico. Biblioteca Era, Mxico, Era.

Monsivis, Carlos 1981, Celia Montalvn: Te brindas voluptuosa e imprudente. Martha Casillas/SEP, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1983, A la mitad del tnel. Ocano, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1984, De qu se re el licenciado: Una crtica de los 40. Delegacin Venustiano Carranza, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1987, Entrada libre: Crnicas de la sociedad que se organiza. Biblioteca Era, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1988, Escenas de pudor y liviandad: Sobre la sociedad del espectculo. Grijalbo, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1995, Los rituales del caos: Ceremonias de la debacle ciudadana y poltica. Biblioteca Era, Mxico.

Monsivis, Carlos 1997, Mexican Postcards. Trans. J. Kraniauskas. Verso, New York.

Monsivis, Carlos 2000, Aires de familia: Cultura y sociedad en Amrica Latina. Anagrama, Mxico.

Orwell, George 1946, Politics and the English Language. Horizon (April). Online. Available: (Accessed 20 January 2008)."

Palaversich, Diana 2002, The Wounded Body of Proletarian Homosexuality in Pedro Lemebels Loco afn." Trans. P. Allatson. Latin American Perspectives, vol. 29, no. 2 (March): 263-82."

Poblete, Juan 2002, Violencia crnica y crnica de la violencia: Espacio urbano y violencia en la obra de Pedro Lemebel, in Espacio urbano, comunicacin y violencia en Amrica Latina, (ed.) Mabel Mora-a, Instituto Internacional de Literatura beroamericana, Pittsburg, 143-54."

Ramos, Jorge 2000, La otra cara de Amrica: Historias de los inmigrantes latinoamericanos que estn cambiando a Estados Unidos. Grijalbo, Mxico.

Rotker, S. (ed.). 2002, Citizens of Fear: Urban Violence in Latin America. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick.

Romero, Fernando/LAR 2007, Hyperborder: The Contemporary U.S.-Mexico Border and its Future. Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Rowe, John Carlos 2002, The New American Studies. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London.

Rowe, William & Schelling, Vivian 1991. Memory and Modernity: Popular Culture in Latin America. Verso, London.

Ryan, Marie-Laure 2001, Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Sahlins, Marshall 2004, Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding History as Culture and Vice Versa. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Sassen, Saskia 2006, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Stenger, Nicole 1991. Mind is a Leaking Rainbow, in Cyberspace: First Steps, (ed.) Michael Benedikt. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 49-58."

Tar, Marcello & Vanni, Ilaria 2005, On the Life and Deeds of San Precario, Patron Saint of Precarious Workers and Lives, " Fibreculture: The Journal, no. 5. Online. Available: (Accessed 26 January 2008)."

Terranova, Tiziana 2004, Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

Vargas Llosa, Mario 1995, The Children of ColumbusCultural Conflicts Resulting from Colonizing Activities, Reason (Jan.). Online. Available: (Accessed 27 January 2008)."

Virilio, Paul 1986 [1977], Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology. Semiotext(e), New York.

Virilio, Paul 1999, The Future in Stereoreal" Space, " Media mente: trasmissione televisiva e telematica sui problemi della comunicazione, 20 January. Online. Available: (Accessed 3 February 2008)."

Wachowski, Andy & Larry (dir.) 1999, The Matrix. Groucho II Film Partnership/Silver Pictures/Village Roadshow/Warner Bros.

Wachowski, Andy & Larry (dir.) 2003, The Matrix Reloaded. Warner Bros/ Village Roadshow/NPV Entertainment/Silver Pictures/Heineken Branded Entertainment.

Wachowski, Andy & Larry (dir.) 2003, The Matrix Revolutions. Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/NPV Entertainment/Silver Pictures.

Wark, Mackenzie 1997, The Virtual Republic: Australia's Culture Wars of the 1990s. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

West, Alan 1997, Tropics of History: Cuba Imagined. Bergin and Garvey, Westport.

Witheford, Nick Dyer 1999, Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-technology. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, IL.

Ydice, George 2003, The Expediency of Culture: Uses of Culture in the Global Era. Duke University Press, Durham and London.



Share this article: