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Paper Session
Nov 11, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1100 20211111T1150 America/Chicago Por la humanidad (y con/tra el neoliberalismo): Exploring the Expressive Agency of Latin American Popular Musicians at the Turn of the 21st Century

Neoliberal theorists argue that human well-being is best served when markets operate freely. In Latin America, along with the eased flow of capital and resources among nations, this sparked a new discourse about globalization and an ever-smaller world. National governments aimed to bolster their economies and mitigate debt through the implementation of neoliberal policies, often dictated by international lenders and advisers. Corporations strove to take maximum advantage of this new phase of deregulation. Meanwhile, citizens reacted to the emerging politics of scarcity by organizing through local and global grassroots networks. Popular musicians played a multifaceted role in this process. As governments sought to activate non-traditional exports, local cultural resources came to the fore and smaller nations in particular turned increasingly to tourism as a means of generating income; musicians were key actors in both of these arenas. The music they produced articulated local communities' experiences of precarity and self-branding while catering to an international public increasingly curious about global connections. In turn, they interfaced directly with companies seeking to invest in and extract from those resources. 

This panel brings together three distinct perspectives on this cultural moment, representing Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, rock, world music, and popular dance music. The first paper examines how rock musicians used Mexican folk elements and Afro-Caribbean rhythms like clave to articulate the many ethnic, social, and cultural ambiguities of modern Mexican identity, crafting a hybrid, self-exoticized idiom in order to become more marketable in an international, cosmopolitan music scene. The second paper consi ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org

Neoliberal theorists argue that human well-being is best served when markets operate freely. In Latin America, along with the eased flow of capital and resources among nations, this sparked a new discourse about globalization and an ever-smaller world. National governments aimed to bolster their economies and mitigate debt through the implementation of neoliberal policies, often dictated by international lenders and advisers. Corporations strove to take maximum advantage of this new phase of deregulation. Meanwhile, citizens reacted to the emerging politics of scarcity by organizing through local and global grassroots networks. Popular musicians played a multifaceted role in this process. As governments sought to activate non-traditional exports, local cultural resources came to the fore and smaller nations in particular turned increasingly to tourism as a means of generating income; musicians were key actors in both of these arenas. The music they produced articulated local communities' experiences of precarity and self-branding while catering to an international public increasingly curious about global connections. In turn, they interfaced directly with companies seeking to invest in and extract from those resources. 

This panel brings together three distinct perspectives on this cultural moment, representing Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, rock, world music, and popular dance music. The first paper examines how rock musicians used Mexican folk elements and Afro-Caribbean rhythms like clave to articulate the many ethnic, social, and cultural ambiguities of modern Mexican identity, crafting a hybrid, self-exoticized idiom in order to become more marketable in an international, cosmopolitan music scene. The second paper considers the intersection of neo-traditionalism in Central American Garifuna popular music with neoliberal marketing strategies within the 2000s world music industry. The third paper investigates the work of Cuban artists as they lead the revolution's tentative reinsertion into capitalist markets, balancing the distinct but overlapping demands of domestic and foreign markets with their own drive for virtuosic self-expression. Together, these papers elaborate the complex interactions of structural constraints and individual agency that characterize the global neoliberal arena and its manifestations in Latin America, as evidenced in the work of these musicians. 

Wanikiki = dinero : Cuban Artists Negotiate the 1990s with Pop Virtuosity
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

After three decades of relative stability, the Cuban revolution faced its greatest challenge yet: the collapse of the Soviet Union and with it, the disappearance of the island's main source of income. Famously branded a "special period in times of peace," the early 1990s were a watershed, marking fundamental shifts in the island's domestic and foreign policy and ushering in a new cultural reality. Popular musicians were at the center of this. Supported by revolutionary institutions, sounding national cultural consensus, and celebrating revolutionary successes, they played an integral role in the nation's quest for autonomy and global leadership. As policy makers desperately sought to refill rapidly draining coffers, popular musicians emerged as key actors in attracting international investment in domestic industries related to tourism and entertainment. Young artists seized this opportunity, quickly ruffling establishment feathers by spotlighting social ills in their lyrics and upending existing socio-economic structures with their income. 

David Calzado y La Charanga Habanera were conceived in the late 1980s as a classic act for the European circuit. In the early 1990s, they updated their sound along the lines of trailblazing NG La Banda, seasoning the sweet timbres of the charanga's flute-and-strings format with fiery horns, juicy keyboards, and heavy percussion. Channeling effervescent virtuosity through a pop filter and taking a cue from international artists they encountered on the road, La Charanga Habanera's live act became a spectacle encompassing staging, choreography, fashion, and occasionally unexpected antics. This visual excess permeated their album art as well. Yet despite the outward-looking, capital-seeking orientation of the band's presentation, like nearly all Cuban musicians of their generation, David Calzado claimed his true loyalties lay with his own people. This paper situates La Charanga Habanera's 1990s production within the multilayered context of the Cuban crisis and global trends, challenging commonplace claims of Cuban exceptionalism by highlighting the island's ongoing integration into broader cultural and economic networks. Subjecting La Charanga Habanera's work to a close reading, it explores the global pathways of popular music production and reveals the multivocal capacity of popular artists in responding to crisis and opportunity. 

Presenters
ST
Sarah Town
Duke University
Clave is the key… to what?: The use of clave in Mexican rock
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

The successful entrance of Mexican rock into both domestic and international music scenes in the late 1980s and early 1990s coincided with a self-conscious search for a distinctively "Mexican" sound through the use of folk elements in music, lyrics, and visual promotional materials. The most distinctive musical elements in Mexican rock are drawn from folk-based popular musics like música ranchera and música norteña, but also from Afro-Caribbean musics like cumbia, danzón, and salsa. In songs by Caifanes, Maná, Café Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad and others, musical references to indigenous and mestizo musics function within the rhythmic framework of clave, a rhythmic pattern of Cuban origin which has its own set of theoretical and cultural ambiguities.

This paper examines Mexican rock of the late twentieth century in the context of the emerging rock en español movement in Latin America and Spain, as well as the neoliberal economic and cultural policies of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, which culminated in the signing of NAFTA in 1994. Such policies can best be understood as a response to the ongoing challenges of modernity for a country whose culture is grounded by post-colonial traditions.

Clave-based Afro-Caribbean genres are received in Mexico as working class musics, while American rock was seen as a symbol of both the technological modernity embodied by U.S. society and of the resistance of ethnic minorities within the U.S. itself. At the same time, the use of Afro-Caribbean rhythms also signifies the participation of Mexican rock in the wider phenomenon of Pan-Latin American and Latinx identities.

The hybridity and syncretism of Mexican rock articulates the many ethnic, social, and cultural ambiguities of modern Mexican identity, throwing into question traditional views of authenticity, folk culture, and cultural identity. Like the nationalist modernist works of earlier 20th-c. composers like Carlos Chávez, Silvestre Revueltas, and others, Mexican rock availed itself of a self-exoticized idiom in order to become more marketable in an international, cosmopolitan music scene shaped by neoliberal economic policies.

Presenters
AM
Adriana Martínez
Eureka College
Standing the Test of Time: Neo-Traditionalism as Neoliberalism in Garifuna World Music
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

The encroachment of enclave tourism upon centuries-old villages of Afro-indigenous Garifuna along Honduras's North Coast presents but one example of neoliberalism's global ascendency during the 1990s. One way that the privatization of the commons materialized was in the commodification of "minority" cultural practices within nation-states -- what Charles Hale (2005) calls "neoliberal multiculturalism." Mark Anderson (2013) observes that this "marketing of ethnicity produces the promise of inclusion at the potential price of cultural and territorial rights" (277-78). Garifuna cultural practices are pivotal to the promotion of Honduras as a tourist destination; however, visitors encounter visual art, costumes, music, and dance as forms of entertainment while remaining segregated from surrounding Garifuna communities. As a result, their market value is as "symbolic capital" which traffics in stereotypes and apolitical narratives (Harvey 2001, 103).

I argue that Garifuna music functions similarly as symbolic capital within the world music industry. I examine the success of Garifuna musical neo-traditionalism within this industry during the mid-aughts as contingent upon neoliberal marketing strategies akin to those implemented by the resorts built within Garifuna Central American coastal villages. Dale Chapman (2018) and Jay Hammond (2020) have noted a similar function for neo-traditionalism in present-day jazz scenes, whereby musicians mine past aesthetics and values for new forms of individual branding and new options for consumers. Moreover, the premium placed upon "timelessness" in these cases presents neo-traditional musical practices against a foil of musical styles too "untempered" and "common" (reminiscent of "the commons") in comparison. Central to the story of Garifuna world music is its development as a preferred alternative to punta rock, which arose circa 1980 as a youth-driven genre realizing local punta and paranda rhythms on keyboards and drum machines. In contrast, the production of recordings by the Garifuna Collective and Aurelio Martinez from the early millennium until today -- dominated by acoustic instruments and made by time-tested, respected musicians steeped in traditional storytelling -- takes a page from the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon of the late 1990s to generate global esteem for Garifuna music and culture.

Presenters
AF
Amy Frishkey
George Washington University
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