Cultural Brokering : Art, National Identity, and the Influence of Free Trade
Smith, Sarah Ellen Kathleen
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This thesis explores the intersections of culture, nationalism, and neoliberal globalization through examination of the construction of Mexican identity in Canada after the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. I evaluate how visual art has been used by the governments of Canada and Mexico to negotiate new bilateral relationships in the face of increased North American integration under free trade. My study includes analysis of two Canada-based exhibitions, “Mexican Modern Art, 1900-1950” and “Panoramas: The North American Landscape in Art.” Framing my discussion within the larger history of North American integration, I argue that these two exhibitions are part of a larger exchange in the area of cultural diplomacy between Canada and Mexico, which was especially prominent at the turn of the millennium. These case studies provide a means to assess the manipulation of culture, the creation of a new North American identity, and the management of national/ist narratives within the larger project of neoliberal globalization. Critically situating my study within the current discourse of globalization theory, I contend that artworks in these exhibitions were positioned in a manner to positively reinforce new trade relationships under NAFTA.