For each era, Chavez reveals the ways Nicaraguan popular culture adapted and interpreted the new political order, shaping, critiquing, or amplifying the regime's message of stability and prosperity for the people. These tactics of interpretation, otherwise known as meaning-making, became all-important for the Nicaraguan people, as they opposed the autocracy of Somocismo, or complemented the Sandinistas, or struggled to find their place in the Neoliberal era. In every case, Chavez shows the reflective nature of cultural production and its pursuit of utopian idealism.
"Beyond Central Americanists, this book is relevant for scholars across the humanities and social sciences concerned with the study of 'practices of meaning-making' in any context. This book is part of the general shift across disciplines and its unique contribution is to show how definitions of 'utopia' lie at the center of such meaning-making practices in Nicaragua, especially with regard to notions of development. In particular, the author shows how there are both conservative and left-liberal, even liberatory, utopias at play."
--David Pedersen, author of American Value: Migrants, Money, and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States
"Highly original . . . Chávez carefully dissects official speeches and constitutional texts and expertly elucidates their literary and discursive origins."
--Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs
"The most important book on Nicaragua published in the United States in recent years."
--Nicasio Urbina, Confidencial