CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

From the Table of my Memory: Identity, Political Change, and Shakespeare in Mexico and Argentina

Helena von Nagy

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Jeffrey Green

Date of this Version: 01 January 2018



In Mexico and Argentina, the localization of Shakespeare marks the crystallization of a new nationalist, political identity rooted in a reshaped collective memory. The development of this identity and the role of memory form a new kind of national citizenship. This group citizenship gives an individual a connection to a nation established around the collective memory of events, or what I term the memory-nation. The localization of Shakespeare, then, marks the complete formation of a citizenship in a new memory-nation. In Mexico, the localization of Shakespeare and its use in cinema was part of a larger process of defining post-Revolutionary Mexican political identity rooted in an appreciation for lo mexicano (or all things mexican, from cultural products to people to the landscape) and the egalitarian project of the Revolution. Shakespeare appears in four films that make distinct arguments in favor of this new national identity: El peñon de las ánimas (based on Romeo and Juliet), Enamorada (based on The Taming of the Shrew), Romeo y Julieta (based on Romeo and Juliet), and El charro y la dama (based on the Taming of the Shrew). In Argentina, the localization of Shakespeare to protest the dictatorship conveyed a post-dictatorial Argentine identity based on a mandate for memory and a search for justice. It articulated a new kind of non-violent political existence rooted in a search to remember the wronged by achieving justice for them (the disappeared in Argentina were represented by the ghost of Hamlet’s father). These emphases came to define political rhetoric, the practice of social accountability, and the expectations placed on the Argentine government. Moreover, the appropriation of Shakespeare serves as the victory of the oppressed over the anglophile oppressive party by claiming the pinnacle of the oppressors’ culture as the new vehicle to articulate a non-violent, rights-based vision of citizenship in the nation. In both Mexico and Argentina, Shakespeare is used to illustrate the ideals of the new memory-nation and justify those ideals, transforming the audience’s understanding of citizenship. This new citizenship is always non-violent and rights-based.


Comparative Politics | International Relations | Latin American Studies | Political Theory

Suggested Citation

von Nagy, Helena, "From the Table of my Memory: Identity, Political Change, and Shakespeare in Mexico and Argentina" 01 January 2018. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 26 June 2018




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