The Equivocal Politics of Carnival
The Forms and Discourses of Carnivalesque Theater in Contemporary Uruguay
Keywords:Carnival, theater, carnivalesque theater, politics, Uruguay
This article reflects on the political, social, and cultural institutionality of carnival in Uruguay and on its growing centrality as a means of expression and space of popular enunciation since the return to democracy in the 1980s. It also argues that the “field” of carnival is a site of constant negotiation with both the state and nongovernmental sources of power (economic groups, the media, churches, etc.) and can thus accommodate various political proposals, leading to constant symbolic-discursive reconfiguration. A detailed analysis of three carnivalesque performances belonging to the murga genre—La caldera de los diablos by Diablos Verdes (2003), Los Sueños by Agarrate Catalina (2005), and Creer o reventar by Don Timoteo (2014)—highlights how carnival has responded to, and has been reconfigured by, three recent circumstances: the apogee of neoliberalism and “the crisis of 2002,” the election of a “broad front” leftist government in 2005, and the end of this government’s second term in 2014.