Notions of Work, Patrimony, and Production in the Life of the Colón Opera House
Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
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Lazar, S. (2016). Notions of Work, Patrimony, and Production in the Life of the Colón Opera House. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 21 231-253. https://doi.org/10.1111/jlca.12172
This article discusses a conflict that took place among the municipal government, the management, and the workers of Buenos Aires’ opera house, the Colón, at the end of the 2000s. A group of workers organized a “state of permanent mobilization” during 2009 to demonstrate against the closure of the opera house for refurbishment and the firing of around 370 of their number. Their argument was that the Colón was being turned from a “factory theater” with its own technical and artistic staff into a venue for touring productions and retail outlets. The story of the Colón, then, was the story of the “neoliberalization” of the Argentine state in miniature: a move from production to subcontracting, with attendant labor flexibilization, loss of domestic technical skills, business logic, and possibly even the destruction of architectural monuments. However, since the conflict was about one of the most celebrated opera houses in the hemisphere, the workers’ story was also entangled in questions of elitism, cultural and architectural heritage, and the role of (high) cultural institutions in society. In telling the conflict from the perspective of the mobilized workers, this research explores their notions of work and production. It asks if culture or art can be produced in a material sense, and whether the material metaphor (of being workers in a “factory theater”) is more than just a means of mobilizing people.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jlca.12172
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/248103