Journal article Open Access

La Estela de Luz: Cultural Policies for National Identity through a Monument

Omar Cerrillo Garnica

Art Style | Art & Culture International Magazine


In 2010, Mexico celebrated 200 years of the beginning of the Independence War and a Centenary of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. As part of the commemoration of both festivities, the Mexican government promoted certain cultural activities, like public photographic expositions, music festivals, museum exhibitions, and the lifting of a commemorative monument, which passed through many proposals and finally became a kind of monolith called “La Estela de Luz” (The Light Stele). Since the inauguration, this sculpture wasn’t received as a commemorative landmark. Instead, people used it as a point of reference to begin protest walks through the main avenue in Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma. It was baptized as “La Estela de la Corrupción” (The Corruption Stele) for political opposition supporters. Eleven years later, new historic commemorations arrived––200 years of the ending of the Independence War and 500 years of the Spanish Conquest of Tenochtitlan. A different government, ideologically identified with the ones that give the alternative name to the monument, must run this festivity. This work aims to identify what Estela de Luz means for Mexican society if it evokes historical commemorations, or it means a different thing, or it really means nothing. This work is theoretical-oriented on collective identity theory, by Alberto Rosa; the symbolic philosophy of Patxi Lanceros; and the notion of cultural policies, from García Canclini, Miller and Yúdice, among others. With these concepts, the text affirms that State-made cultural policies trend to generate a unique vision of culture and of national identity. But there are also other cultural policies, emerged from different societal groups. These new visions allow democratic debates that trend to create better democratic scenarios. This work aims to provide new visions about the relationship of cultural policies with national identity and democratic societies in the 21st century.

Art Style, Art & Culture International Magazine is an open-access, biannual, and peer-reviewed online magazine that aims to bundle cultural diversity. All values of cultures are shown in their varieties of art. Beyond the importance of the medium, form, and context in which art takes its characteristics, art is considered the significance of socio-cultural, historical, and market influence.
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