With few exceptions, Latin Americanist scholarship on affect has focused on the contemporary period –whether addressing the trauma of dictatorships and their aftermath, the sensorial overload of new media cultures, the embodied practices of young activists, or other topics. As I’ve argued elsewhere, it is my contention that this tendency responds to a conceptual and methodological impasse. If we follow Massumi’s theorization and understand affect as an embodied intensity that has not yet been “fixed” into a signifying network, then approaches that seek to analyze that immanence in relation to past socio-cultural phenomena must turn away from discursive analysis (e.g. the representation of emotion) and fashion new methods.
My presentation will address this impasse by crafting a new approach to the analysis of los jóvenes desenfrenados in the late 1950s and 1960s. In that era, the changing practices of young people –from fashion choices to musical selections; from behaviors in cinemas to those on city streets—set off a series of heated public debates in Mexico, Argentina and elsewhere. Historians like Eric Zolov, Jaime M. Pensado and Valeria Manzano have offered immensely insightful studies of youth cultures in this period. However, neither they nor cultural analysts have moved beyond discursive analysis to address the rise of new sensorial dynamics –i.e. the so-called frenzy of emergent youth cultures. This presentation will do so by analyzing the affective dynamics surrounding Mexican films such as Twist, locura de juventud (Miguel Delgado, 1962) and Sor ye ye (Ramón Fernández, 1968).