Icons and Influence: Reading the Signs of U.S. Foreign Strategy Toward Latin America Restricted; Files Only

Hendricks, Olivia (Summer 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/79407z41h?locale=en


I argue that the domestic circulation of cultural icons is one pathway through which U.S. state and corporate institutions aim to influence U.S. citizen diplomats’ relationships. From a foreign policy perspective, citizen diplomats are ordinary people who can use interpersonal relations with foreign peers to authenticate their home countries’ narratives. I engage a humanities perspective to approach citizen diplomacy from a different angle, one that emphasizes the increasing value of ordinary human relationships in the digital age. I consider how U.S. state and corporate investment in citizen diplomacy incentivizes these institutions to influence the ways citizens approach social relations across borders.

I show how several U.S. institutions aim to influence citizen diplomats through strategically re-configuring foreign icons. These icons simulate the highly interpersonal nature of citizen diplomacy. Further, these icons both can reach U.S. mass audiences and can be reconstructed quickly according to changing U.S. foreign interests.

Given the importance of Latin American countries to U.S. political ideology and economic interests, I focus on U.S.-Latin American relations. I use close reading to analyze the ways major U.S. institutions have reconstituted three Latin American icons: Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Argentine political icon Eva Perón, and Argentine tango icon Astor Piazzolla. In addition, I read the concept of U.S. citizen diplomacy itself, showing why it has a privileged relationship with Anglo American femininity due to the racist construction of U.S. citizenship and the gendering of diplomacy.

Table of Contents

Introduction - 1

Chapter One: Signs in the House of "Soft Power": Madonna as Madame X as Frida Kahlo - 36

Chapter Two: Evita's Iconicity/Madonna's Limits - 87

Chapter Three: Astor Piazzolla's U.S. Iconicity vs. The Iconic Composer's Gaze Returned - 118

Conclusion - 158

Bibliography - 169

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