Machismo and its Reflection in Spanish-American Folklore

Key words
machismo, copla, motif, aggressiveness, self-assertion
Andrey F. Kofma
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (495) 690-50-30
25a, Povarskaya str., Moscow, 121069, Russian Federation
DSc in Philology, Professor, Vice Director, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The first part of this article examines the phenomenon of machismo and reveals the socio-historical factors of its formation in the New World such as the Conquista (violence that lies at the very foundation of Latin American civilization); the human struggle against the natural world; primitive and cruel forms of exploitation, etc. This experience, when “violencia” became the norm of life and survival, affected the collective consciousness, including folklore. As a result, New World folklore developed environmental ideals, ethical and moral principles that differed from Spanish folklore. The second part of the article reveals the peculiarities of Spanish “coplas,” that together with conquistadors and colonists were transferred to the New World and formed the primary layer of folksongs there. A comparison of Spanish coplas with their Latin American versions reveals the substantial transformation of Spanish lyrics in the New World as influenced by the complex of machismo. Its most important features include the dominant motif of personal self-assertion; the increasing motif of aggression; the reorientation of Spanish humorous motifs into serious, bravado lyrics; the mocking parody of “serious” Spanish motifs; the tendency to change the role of a man passively suffering in love into an active one; and the magnification of misogynistic motifs. On the whole, Latin American coplas differ from Spanish ones on corresponding subjects by their forceful expression, a sharp decrease in the role of images, and their rude humor. 


Frenk Alatorre M. (1984) Entre folclore y lite- ratura [Between Folklore and Literature]. Méxi- co: El Colegio de México: Centro de Estudios Linguísticos y Literarios. In Spanish.

Jiménez de Baez Y. (1969) Lírica cortesana y lírica popular actual [Courtesan Lyrics and Current Popular Lyrics]. México: El Colegio de México, 1969. In Spanish.

Kofman A. F. (2005) Rytsari Novogo Sveta [Knights of the New World]. Moscow: Pan press. In Russian.

Kofman A. F. (2012) Ispanskii konkistador. Ot teksta k rekonstruktsii tipa lichnosti [The Spanish Conquistador: From Text to a Reconstruction of Personality]. Moscow: IMLI RAN. In Russian.

Kofman A. F. (2017) Pod pokrovitel’stvom Sant’yago. Ispanskoe zavoevanie Ameriki i sud’by znamenitykh konkistadorov [Under the Auspices of Santiago: The Spanish Conquest of America and the Destinies of the Famous Conquistadors]. St. Petersburg: Kriga. In Russian.

Mendoza V. T. (1956) Panorama de la música tradicional de México [Panorama of the Traditional Music of Mexico]. México: Universitaria. In Spanish.

Paz O. (1950) El laberinto de la soledad [The Labyrinth of Loneliness]. México: Cuadernos Americanos. In Spanish.

Ramos S. (1976) El perfil del hombre y la cultura en México [A Profile of Man and Culture in Mexico]. México: Espasa-Calpe. In Spanish.

Zemskov V. B. (1977) Argentinskaya poеziya gaucho [Argentinean Gaucho Poetry]. Moscow: Nauka. In Russian.

For citation

Kofman A. F. Machismo and its Reflection in Spanish-American Folklore. Traditional Culture. 2020. Vol. 21. No. 1. Pp. 76–90. In Russian.