The Center for Ethnomusicology presents a talk by:
Prof. Alex E. Chavez
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Notre Dame
For further information write to: email@example.com
Abstract: In the post-NAFTA era of intensified transnational migration, state and narco violence carried out with impunity, and calls for indigenous autonomy across Mexico, the growing perception of a waning Mexican state has taken hold in both the local and the global imagination. Dr. Chávez’s talk considers this tensive reality and attends to a grassroots politics of culture with specific focus on the New Years Eve ritual huapango arribeño performance in the highlands of northeastern Guanajuato. There, two ensembles engage in both poetic dueling and musical flyting in the town of Xichú from dusk until dawn while thousands of spectators ring in the New Year. The ensuing music and poetics that fluoresce, it is argued, animate affective desires of connection and recognition that gesture toward a post-national imagination. In pursuit of this claim, the expressive grammar of huapango arribeño is considered alongside conventional scriptings of Mexican cultural nationalism—which have inscribed huapango as one musical trope of Mexicanidad—and officialized state discourses voiced recently in the face of widespread social unrest across Mexico.
Alex E. Chávez earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in folklore and public culture and also holds doctoral portfolios in both Mexican American Studies and Cultural Studies. Before joining the department, he was a post-doctoral fellow in the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he served as both a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Latina/Latino Studies and a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology. From 2012-2014 he taught in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Centered around the US-Mexico Borderlands and Latinas/os in the United States, Chavez’s research and teaching interests explore the innermost workings of transnational migration, embodiment, place-making, and everyday life as manifest in political economies of performance with particular emphasis on music and language. His forthcoming book is entitled ¡Huapango!: Mexican Music, Bordered Lives, and the Sounds of Crossing (Duke University Press). In collaboration with Daniel Sheehy—Director and Curator of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings—he is currently lead consultant for a Folkways recording of huapango arribeño for inclusion in the world-renowned Tradiciones music series, lending an anthropological perspective on this music to a broader audience. In a similar capacity, he also serves as co-contributing editor of the Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists column in Anthropology News, helping anthropological research focused on U.S. Latinas/o communities reach a wider public. He has published in the Latin American Music Review, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Southern Cultures, Música Oral del Sur, and has contributed to Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions (2012), Iconic Mexico (2015), Latino, American, Dream (forthcoming, Texas A&M Press), in addition to Con La Música a Otra Parte: Migración e Identidad en La Lírica Queretana (2010) published with the support of the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y Las Artes in Mexico.