Musicology Colloquium Series
Sponsored by The University of New Mexico Department of Music, The Department of Spanish and Portuguese & The Latin American and Iberian Institute
Ortega Hall Reading Room 335
Thursday September 19, 2019
“Reclaiming ‘the Border’ in Texas-Mexican Conjunto Heritage and Cultural Memory”
Name of presenter: Cathy Ragland
The Texas border town of San Benito is the subject of this talk which examines how memory and legacy operate within a community of “self-appointed” cultural brokers and a local municipality inspired by capitalist notions of urban development, economic growth and cultural tourism. The legacy of two of the town’s “native sons” – Narciso Martínez, the “father of Tex-Mex conjunto music” and Baldemar Huerta (aka Freddy Fender), a Grammy-winning country rock artist – have been memorialized in two opposing positions to reclaim border music history in a context of globalization and hypermediacy that seeks to counter representations of a US-Mexico border perpetually “in crisis.”
Cathy Ragland is associate professor of ethnomusicology in the College of Music at the University of North Texas. She is editor of the series Sonic Crossings for UNT Press, and author of the book Musica Norteña: Mexican Migrants Creating a Nation between Nations along with several journal articles, book chapters, and public press articles. Her research and scholarship have focused on music and border politics, identity, immigration/migration, rurality, and gender relations. She is an experienced journalist, folklorist, and applied ethnomusicologist who has collaborated with Mexican immigrant partners in co-founding sustainable music and arts programs and organizations in New York City. She has directed public arts festivals, exhibits, and arts education programs in New York, Washington, Texas, and Mexico. These experiences have informed her scholarship and teaching.
This talk explores the relationship between trauma and identity by examining Arab music performance on the U.S.–Mexico border. Drawing on the musicking of Syrian and Mexican migrant communities, I interrogate theories of cultural and psychological trauma and borderland epistemologies to explore how border tensions influence the often-fraught views of identity.
Formed by Antonio Rosales (bass clarinet), Juan José García (doublebass), and José Luis Hurtado (piano), LOW FREQUENCY TRIO is one of the few ensembles in the world that plays music that was exclusively composed for them.
In New Spain, an institutional structure of merit and promotion hinged on the idea of reason as an intrinsically European attribute. This attribute differentiated ‘Europeans’ from people of mixed race claiming European status based on their skin complexion.