The distinction in North Atlantic cultures between aesthetics and politics, argues Greg Dawes, is artificially constructed because it does not take into account the socially based origins of these spheres. Although it is true that intellectuals and artists often function as politicians or diplomats in Latin America and that they are relegated to an autonomous realm in North America, the fact remains that aesthetics in both regions is embedded in sociohistorical events.
In Aesthetics and Revolution, Dawes demonstrates that there is an objective grounding for cultural studies found in the aesthetic means of production. By analyzing the relations and forces of production in this realm we inevitably cross over into the economic means of production as well as the struggle for political representation. Ultimately, aesthetics is at the intersection of class and gender interests and their struggle for hegemony.
In Aesthetics and Revolution, Dawes has chosen a group of writers of different theoretical sympathies, class, gender, and social positions to reveal the conflictual interests of the social classes and genders as a whole. Through close readings of their work, Dawes examines the thematic nodes that are expressed in positions as diverse as Ernesto Cardenal’s liberation theology, Pablo Antonio Cuadra’s populism, the campesino’s oral tradition, and Gioconda Belli’s erotic verses in relation to the changes taking place in revolutionary Nicaragua.