Captivating a country with her curves: Examining the importance of Carmen Miranda's iconography in creating national identities
Ellis, Amanda J.
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Carmen Miranda overcame economic obstacles to become the most notable Latin American entertainer in the Americas during the 1930s through the 1950s. This thesis discusses the importance of mainstream popular culture with regards to identity creation and international politics. In the 1930's, Miranda's fame became part of Getúlio Vargas', the President of Brazil, efforts to create a Brazilian national identity. Upon her move to the United States, Miranda's media image became part of projects to create a general Latin American identity for American consumption. I examine these projects through the lenses of national identity and gender/race by analyzing the images of Carmen Miranda, especially her first four North American films. Film representations of 'self' and 'other' fall victim to imperialist histories and become imagined realities in which identities are created and diffused globally. These visual representations, as used here, have been affected by the Good Neighbor Policy of the United States government and have long lasting effects on current depictions of racialized 'others.'