Law and Popular Culture: Examples from Colombian Slang and Spanish-Language Radio in U.S.

24 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2007 Last revised: 27 Feb 2009

See all articles by Ernesto Hernandez Lopez

Ernesto Hernandez Lopez

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law


This article argues that critical analysis of popular culture themes benefits legal scholarship by providing distinct cross-border perspectives and illuminating popular resistance efforts to hegemonic forces. This examination occurs in an Inter-American context, characterized by a south-north dynamic and migration's transnational influence. In these dynamics, there is significant popular resistance and anti-subordination to hegemonic forces. Legal scholarship often overlooks this by focusing on formal legal texts and processes. This resistance is visible within popular culture, as part of ¿hidden transcripts.¿ This article makes two claims about popular culture's relevance, one methodological/theoretical claim and one substantive claim. First, observing how popular culture reflects societal interpretations of the law and politics greatly benefits the scholarly objectives of international research by promoting an exchange across national borders with an appreciation for different perspectives. Second, critically exploring popular culture illuminates how resistance and anti-subordination efforts often exercised by popular sectors, civil society, or Southern countries may be represented in this culture. As evidence of this, Colombian slang and Spanish radio in the U.S during 2006 immigration demonstrations are examined as two popular culture examples. This article incorporates theoretical innovations from law and popular culture scholarship, Latin American cultural studies such as N¿stor Garc¿a Canclini's work, James Scott's ¿arts of resistance¿ and ¿hidden transcripts,¿ and post-colonial theory.

Keywords: popular culture, hegemony, immigration, language, post-colonialism, subaltern, Latin America, anti-subordination

Suggested Citation

Hernandez Lopez, Ernesto, Law and Popular Culture: Examples from Colombian Slang and Spanish-Language Radio in U.S.. 19 Berkeley La Raza Law Journal 101-124 (2009), Available at SSRN:

Ernesto Hernandez Lopez (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

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