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Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño

Thursday, October 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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In Sounds of Crossing, Alex E. Chávez explores the contemporary politics of Mexican migrant cultural expression manifest in the sounds and poetics of huapango arribeño, a musical genre originating from north-central Mexico. Following the resonance of huapango's improvisational performance within the lives of audiences, musicians, and himself—from New Year's festivities in the highlands of Guanajuato, Mexico, to backyard get-togethers along the back roads of central Texas—Chávez shows how Mexicans living on both sides of the border use expressive culture to construct meaningful communities amid the United States’ often vitriolic immigration politics. Through Chávez's writing, we gain an intimate look at the experience of migration and how huapango carries the voices of those in Mexico, those undertaking the dangerous trek across the border, and those living in the United States. Illuminating how huapango arribeño’s performance refigures the sociopolitical and economic terms of migration through aesthetic means, Chávez adds fresh and compelling ethnographic insights into the ways language, performance, and music-making are at the center of everyday Mexican migrant life.

 "I am almost left at a loss for words, except: wow. Alex E. Chávez's writing is vivid, rich, and sensuous, and the command of voicing as he switches between perspectives and crosses theoretical, ethnographical, and analytical divides is effortless and constantly clarifying. One hears the sound of a major ethnographic voice emerging here. Sounds of Crossing is one of the best musical ethnographies I've read in years, and it will surely rank with the very best books in its category of this or any generation."
— Aaron A. Fox, author of Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture

"In this masterful ethnography, Alex E. Chávez focuses on huapango arribeño, its performance, its circulation, and its consumption, to explore the everyday politics of Mexican migrant life in the United States. Evoking the border crossing of décimas and zapateados huapangueros, Chávez's beautiful writing continuously challenges the boundaries between storytelling, theory, and real life, to offer a dispassionate glimpse into the emotional paradoxes that inform the making of Mexican-American spaces and subjectivities in twenty-first-century America."
— Alejandro L. Madrid, author of Nor-tec Rifa! Electronic Dance Music from Tijuana to the World

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