Musical Imagination: U.S.-Colombian Identity and the Latin Music Boom

Musical Imagination: U.S.-Colombian Identity and the Latin Music Boom

Musical Imagination: U.S.-Colombian Identity and the Latin Music Boom

Musical Imagination: U.S.-Colombian Identity and the Latin Music Boom

Synopsis

Long associated with the pejorative clichés of the drug-trafficking trade and political violence, contemporary Colombia has been unfairly stigmatized. In this pioneering study of the Miami music industry and Miami's growing Colombian community, Maréa Elena Cepeda boldly asserts that popular music provides an alternative common space for imagining and enacting Colombian identity. Using an interdisciplinary analysis of popular media, music, and music video, Cepeda teases out issues of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and transnational identity in the Latino/a music industry and among its most renowned rock en español, pop, and vallenato stars.

Musical ImagiNation provides an overview of the ongoing Colombian political and economic crisis and the dynamics of Colombian immigration to metropolitan Miami. More notably, placed in this context, the book discusses the creative work and media personas of talented Colombian artists Shakira, Andrea Echeverri of Aterciopelados, and Carlos Vives. In her examination of the transnational figures and music that illuminate the recent shifts in the meanings attached to Colombian identity both in the United States and Latin America, Cepeda argues that music is a powerful arbitrator of memory and transnational identity.

Excerpt

Since its inception, the parameters of this project have been constantly defined and redefined by the very histories of violence and displacement that permeate contemporary Colombian history. My long-anticipated visit to Colombia's renowned vallenato musical festival had to be canceled due to threats by guerrilla groups. A later trip to Colombia was marked by yet another armed attack against my cousin and his young grandson, the fourth such act of violence against an immediate family member that my young relative had witnessed before entering the first grade. As I completed an initial draft of this text, a large group of family members quickly left Colombia to settle near my family, victims of the nation's failing economy and of increased guerrilla activity in the region where they lived. They have since returned to Colombia (where one of them was kidnapped and shortly thereafter released), only to be replaced by others. Virtually everyone I know in Colombia has had his or her daily activities curbed if not dictated to a marked degree by violence and by the economic and political crisis to which the violence is inextricably linked. And the characteristic Colombian desconfianza, or lack of trust, born of these circumstances follows those who relocate to the United States, in turn affecting their willingness to interact with other colombianos or to publicly recognize their own national identity at all. While it is a determining factor in the lack of social cohesion among U.S.Colombians—the vast majority of whom do not participate in the illicit drug trade or other illegal activities—the general desconfianza that is partly attributable to the drug-trafficking stereotype has also paradoxically fortified the community's ties to the (imagined) homeland. These factors and many others, familiar to so many Colombians both in South America and el exterior? have colored not only my eventual choice of topic but also my political views and scholarly interpretations of the music, artists, critics, fans, and government officials discussed here.

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