Current Institutional Affiliation
Visiting Scholar, History, University of California / San Diego

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2000
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Ethnomusicology, University of California / Los Angeles
The Selective Memory of Race and Rhythm in Afro-Peruvian Music

Afro-Peruvian music was reinvented in the 1950s to affirm the rich ancestry of Peru's black population. Why did this cultural expression become folkloric entertainment for tourists and white Peruvians, and recently, "world music" for international audiences? I will conduct dissertation research in Peru and the U.S. about the competing processes of cultural memory that prevent Afro-Peruvian music from unifying the black community in its struggle for recognition. Social manipulation of Afro-Peruvian music has engendered powerful debates over the selective presentation of cultural traditions, how those presentations influence the current status of blacks in Peru, and the extent to which memories of repression have been "improved" to either elevate or sublimate the race. My ethnographic research emphasizes social debates and memory processes in three historical periods: 1) the Afro-Peruvian Revival Period, 1950s-60s; 2) the Afro-Peruvian Commercial Folklore Period, 1970s-80s; and 3) Afro-Peruvian World Music and Latin Jazz, 1990s. This project contributes to an understudied area -- the black presence in Peru. Blacks are socially invisible in Peru, where nationalist ideologies condone a subtly racist interpretation of mestizaje even as they proclaim racial democracy. While Afro-Peruvian music is a unique case study, I believe that my dissertation will enrich public awareness of processes of collective memory and racial democratization in South America and other parts of the world.