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Musical ImagiNation

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

María Elena Cepeda
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Musical ImagiNation
    Book Description:

    Long associated with the pejorative cliches 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, Maria 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 espanol, 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7290-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Colombian Connections: Tracing the Boundaries of the Colombian Musical ImagiNation
    (pp. 1-17)

    Within violence-plagued Colombia, art and politics have drawn ever closer in recent years, seemingly in tandem with the nation’s decades-old political and economic crises. Shortly after the international success of the Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira’s 1998 albumDónde están los ladrones?(Where are the thieves?), Colombia’s then-president Andrés Pastrana in fact hailed the beloved pop star, among other Colombian artists, as “emblems of a new national era” and as living examples of the work ethic and positive attitude necessary for Colombia to overcome its troubles.¹ (That a rock en español band like Bogotá’s Aterciopelados, a group that has dedicated itself to...

  5. 1 La crisis colombiana: Contextualizing the Political Moment
    (pp. 18-34)

    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 renownedvallenatomusical 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...

  6. 2 A Miami Sound Machine: Deconstructing the Latin(o) Music Boom of the Late 1990s
    (pp. 35-60)

    As the Ethnic Studies scholar George Lipsitz observes, the triumvirate forces of technology, globalization, and the subsequent migration of individuals from south to north have transformed cities like Los Angeles and Miami into global, as opposed to national or regional, centers. As recently as 1980, Anglos constituted a majority in metropolitan Miami-Dade, while African Americans and Latinos represented the area’s largest ethnoracial minorities. However, a mere decade later, the Anglo population was in steady decline due to “selective” white flight, the African American population (largely because of the continuous arrival of new immigrants) had remained constant, and Latinos had become...

  7. 3 Shakira as the Idealized Transnational Citizen: Media Perspectives on Colombianidad in Transition
    (pp. 61-86)

    In the most elementary sense, transnationalism entails the “the social practices of ‘transmigrants’ and their organizations” and may include habitual activities that involve regular travel and a certain degree of predictability, as well as activities dictated by more extraordinary circumstances, such as natural disasters or political events. In a more official capacity, a transnational dynamic emerges when, in response to a large immigrant population, government officials in a nation set out to reconfigure the nationstate’s borders in order to include even those residing outside the state’s physical boundaries. The result, a “deterritorialized transnational nation-state,” encompasses the immigrants themselves as well...

  8. 4 Florecita rockera: Gender and Representation in Latin(o) American Rock and Mainstream Media
    (pp. 87-110)

    Fresh-cut flowers, along with coffee, emeralds, and cocaine, figure among Colombia’s principal exports. Therefore, it seems entirely suitable—though perhaps merely coincidental—that“Florecita rockera”(Little rock blossom), as sung by the lead singer of Aterciopelados, Andrea Echeverri, has emerged as one of the defining anthems of the Colombian rock movement. When read in isolation,“florecita”may well simply reference a primary cash crop; read in conjunction with“rockera”(female rocker), however, this flower assumes an entirely different meaning. Relying on lyrics heavy in plant and floral imagery juxtaposed against a punk/ska backdrop,“Florecita rockera”unites the seemingly disparate worlds...

  9. 5 The Colombian Vallenato acá y allá: Allegory for a Musical ImagiNation
    (pp. 111-133)

    In his 1996 video for“La cachucha bacana”(The cool cap),¹ the Colombian musician Tulio Zuluaga performs an updated version of the late composer and musician Alejo Durán’svallenatoclassic, in contemporary scenes that feature Zuluaga alongside various male musicians and female backup singers. In keeping withvallenatocustom, Zuluaga begins his performance by verbally acknowledging the song’s composer, Durán (“Alejo, for you buddy”). He also provides visual recognition of Durán’s contribution to 1990svallenatovia an intermittent series of vintage clips of Durán performing the same piece decades earlier. Numerous contradictory elements emerge from Zuluaga’s video for“La cachucha...

  10. 6 The Colombian Transcultural Aesthetic Recipe: Music Video in the “New” American Studies
    (pp. 134-163)

    After decades of relative privilege afforded to the study of external as opposed to internal colonialism, the current rush to embrace the transnational within Latin American and American Studies, while largely a welcome development, also proves somewhat problematic. I refer specifically to the enthusiastic critiques leveled by numerous scholars regarding the need for American Studies to “go global.” As Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel and others have observed, to uncritically accept the apparent novelty of such logic is to disregard the longstanding contributions of Latino Studies (and, I would add, Ethnic Studies in general) as inherently transnational intellectual and political projects. Perhaps more...

  11. Afterword: U.S.-Colombian Popular Music and Identity: Acknowledging the Transnational in the National
    (pp. 164-168)

    At the end of virtually any sizable Latin(o) musical event in Miami, a modest cluster of Colombian street vendors appears, waiting outside to hawkarepas(corn cakes) andchuzos(meat skewers) to the gathering crowds. More so than usual, on this early September evening, they are expecting a crowd of fellow Colombians to spill out of the downtown Miami Arena at the close of the evening’s concert by Carlos Vives. They (and we) are not disappointed. As the sound system fades out, chants of“¡Colombia! ¡Colombia!”bounce off the building’s concrete walls and out into the humid Florida night, a...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 169-216)
  13. References
    (pp. 217-242)
  14. Discography
    (pp. 243-244)
  15. Index
    (pp. 245-254)
  16. About the Author
    (pp. 255-255)