A Social and Political History of Latin America's Global Comic


Latin America in Translation/En Traducción/Em Tradução

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 58 illustrations Published: December 2019

Author: Isabella Cosse

Translator: Laura Pérez Carrara

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies

Since its creation in 1964, readers from all over the world have loved the comic Mafalda, primarily because of the sharp wit and rebellious nature of its title character—a four-year-old girl who is wise beyond her years. Through Mafalda, Argentine cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado explores complex questions about class identity, modernization, and state violence. In Mafalda: A Social and Political History of Latin America's Global Comic—first published in Argentina in 2014 and appearing here in English for the first time—Isabella Cosse analyzes the comic's vast appeal across multiple generations. From Mafalda breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to readers to express her opposition to the 1966 Argentine coup, to Spanish students' protest signs bearing her face, to the comic's cult status in Korea, Cosse provides insights into the cartoon's production, circulation, and incorporation into social and political conversations. Analyzing how Mafalda reflects generational conflicts, gender, modernization, the Cold War, authoritarianism, neoliberalism, and much more, Cosse demonstrates the unexpected power of humor to shape revolution and resistance.


“This is transnational cultural history at its best. Isabella Cosse takes us on a global journey to reveal how and why a simple comic strip that began in Argentina in the 1960s found resonance and took root in Western Europe during the early 1970s, became a unifying symbol of Latin America's ‘continental identity’ in the 1980s, and evolved into a mass-marketed icon whose namesake—the puckish, prepubescent, feminist rebel, Mafalda—is today recognized the world over.” — Eric Zolov, author of The Last Good Neighbor: Mexico in the Global Sixties

Mafalda combines the best traditions of Latin American social and political history. A brilliant discussion of gender and the political seriousness of humor, this book ingeniously invites the audience to ‘read the funny pages’ while taking students on a rigorous analytical journey about the politics of Latin American modernity. Just like Mafalda herself.” — Heidi Tinsman, author of Buying into the Regime: Grapes and Consumption in Cold War Chile and the United States

"Isabella Cosse's sociohistorical study of Mafalda (which was originally published in Argentina in 2014) is an outstanding example of one important current of cultural studies in that country." — David William Foster, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

“In this important sociopolitical/cultural study (first published in Spanish in 2014, here smoothly translated by Pérez Carrara), Cosse demonstrates—with a nod to Freud, Bakhtin, and other ‘humorists’—how a simple comic strip about a 1960s middle-class little girl speaks to generations of Argentines and transcends national borders… Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” — J. Walker, Choice


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Isabella Cosse is an independent researcher for the National Science and Technology Research Council and the University of Buenos Aires. She is the author of numerous books, including Pareja, sexualidad y familia en los años sesenta.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations  ix
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction  1
1. Marks of Origin: Middle Class, Modernization, and Authoritarianism  12
2. Controversial Mafalda: From Radicalization to State Terrorism (1968–1976)  54
3. Global Mafalda: Circulation, Appropriations, and Resignifications  102
4. An Antiestablishment Voice in Turbulent Times  137
5. Mafalda, the Myth  170
Conclusion  207
Notes  215
Bibliography 243
Index  259
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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