FROM MÚSICA DE CARRILERA TO CORRIDOS PROHIBIDOS AND NORTEÑA: MOBILITY, MEANING, WAR, AND THE RECONTEXTUALIZATION OF MEXICAN MUSICAL STYLES IN COLOMBIA
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This dissertation analyses the adoption and multiple layers of recontextualization of Mexican musical styles in Colombia since the 1930s, particularly música norteña and corridos, story-songs that narrate current events perceived by listeners to be “the pure truth” about the Colombian conflict involving insurgent guerrillas, paramilitary squads, military officials, and drug traffickers that plagued the country for nearly six decades. The dissertation analyses the processes of music production, circulation, and reception that enabled the rise of a Colombian genre family of Mexican-inspired musical practices that thrives today, in spite of being dismissed by the Colombian culture industries for their supposed lack of artistic value and authenticity. Through a historic and spatial perspective this study examines long-standing rhetorics of class and race difference in Colombia, from the nineteenth-century elite’s conceptions of nation, modernity, and civilization to the project of multiculturalism that currently undergirds Colombia’s peace and nation building efforts. It highlights how these enduring discourses have been implicated in the disenfranchisement of both the participants and the musical practices that are the subject of this study. A boom in the production of corridos in Colombia coincided with the intensification of the conflict throughout the 1990s. Named “corridos prohibidos” (forbidden corridos), the production and distribution of these compositions has since relied on the informal economy, since they continue to be shunned by Colombian mass media channels. The political economy of corridos prohibidos thus provides an apt case study of how contemporary musicians and audiences have forged relationships with musical piracy that they view as a beneficial partnership, differing drastically from the attitudes of the traditional recording music industry and its professionals. This dissertation presents the current practices of corridos prohibidos and Colombian música norteña as vibrant spheres of cultural production from which participants derive a range of meanings and ways to mediate their lived experiences of violence and disenfranchisement, as well as pleasure and respite.