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Congratulations to Dr. Melissa Gonzalez!


The Center for Ethnomusicology warmly congratulates Dr. Melissa Gonzalezwho successfully defended her PhD dissertation on September 17, 2014.  Dr. Gonzalez is also an alumna of the Barnard College music major.  Her dissertation, advised by Prof. Christopher Washburne,  is entitled: "Cien por Ciento Nacional!" Panamanian Musica Tipica and the Quest for National and Territorial Sovereignty."  

Dissertation Abstract:  "In this dissertation, I investigate the socio-cultural and musical transfigurations of a rural-identified musical genre known as musica tipica as it engages with the dynamics of Panama's rural/urban divide and the country's nascent engagement with the global political economy. Though regarded as emblematic of Panama's national folklore, musica tipica is also the basis for the country's principal and most commercially successful popular music style known by the same name. The primary concern of this project is to examine how and why this particular genre continues to undergo simultaneous processes of folklorization and commercialization. As an unresolved genre of music, I argue that musica tipica can offer rich insight into the politics of working out individual and national Panamanian identities.   

Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Panama City and several rural communities in the country's interior, I examine the social struggles that subtend the emergence of musica tipica's genre variations within local, national, and transnational contexts. Through close ethnographic analysis of particular case studies, this work explores how musicians, fans, and the country's political and economic structures constitute divisions in regards to generic labeling and how differing fields of musical circulation and meaning are imagined."

Congratulations to Dr. Gonzalez!

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