Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology, School of Music and Dance, University of Oregon

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Ethnomusicology, Indiana University / Bloomington
Sounding Stereotypes: Musical Styles in the Social Poetics of Arica, Chile

The diverse musical practices of the border city of Arica question the stereotype that Chile is an ethnically homogeneous country. Focusing on issues of musical style, I will use ethnographic methods to analyze public performances rooted in the cultures of African, Aymaran, and European descendants. These performances include carnival processions, religious dancing, staged presentations for hire, and cueca competitions. Such displays both challenge and conform to stereotypes about each ethnic group and its national affiliation. Descendants of African slaves are often presumed to be Peruvian, while the Aymara are associated with Bolivia. An effective musical style reaffirms the group's identity as well as gives these groups greater acceptance as Chileans in the eyes of the local population and the state, resulting in access to more resources. My use of the term 'style' draws from definitions in anthropology, musicology, and sociolinguistics that assume style springs from the mechanisms of social interaction in a particular culture. When multiple cultures come into contact, however, styles become multi-faceted, expressing inter-cultural dynamics in addition to intra-cultural ones. At the core of these dynamics are the essentialisms that groups make about one another and themselves. My work focuses on how groups and individuals use these stereotypes to change their musical styles of performance in order to deal with the pressures of nationalism. In demonstrating how nation-building is negotiated through musical performances by individuals, I contest other approaches to nationalism that suggest that only powerful elites are significant in this process. This project will appeal to those interested in the interplay between expressive culture, ethnicity, and nationalism.