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Art and possibility : from nationalism to neoliberalism. The cultural interventions of Banamex and Televisa Aceves Sepúlveda, Gabriela


This thesis will take issue with Citibank's purchase of Banamex and its art collection in 2001 as a point of departure to discuss how legislation on national patrimony is changing as Mexico opens up the cultural sector to foreign and private ownership. I will contextualize this change through a review of Banamex and Televisa involvement in the cultural field since the late 1960s. I will also examine how the adoption of neoliberal economic measures has encouraged the participation of the private sector and the shift from a state funding system towards a model of transnational corporate philanthropy. In this context, I will argue that the emergence of corporate philanthropy in Mexico is a direct result of the re-distribution of finance capital that accompanied Mexico's neoliberal turn. For most part of the twentieth century, the Mexican state was the sole sponsor and manager of cultural matters. This funding system began to change in the late 1960s when private citizens and corporations began to invest more openly in the arts as the one-party-rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) began to decline. In the late 1990s as Mexico integrated to the global economy, a need to update this form of management became urgent. Encouraged by the possibility to democratize and decentralize the state's funding system, new state cultural apparatuses that promoted private intervention were established. However, within the framework of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), these newly formed state institutions did not legislate in favor of protectionist measures in the cultural field and rather opted to continue espousing a nationalist rhetoric (without a legal backing) while opening up the sponsoring and ownership of culture and national patrimony to an increasingly transnational private sector. This situation gave rise to debates about the privatization of culture, the inefficient legislation in cultural patrimony, and most importantly, the new role that the state should adopt in handling cultural matters as Mexico's political environment moved towards a democracy aligned to neoliberal economics. I will address how Banamex and Televisa, two of the first corporations to invest in culture and develop cultural foundations, became protagonists in these debates.

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