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Musical ImagiNationU.S-Colombian Identity and the Latin Music Boom$
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Maria Elena Cepeda

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814716915

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814716915.001.0001

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The Colombian Vallenato acá y allá

The Colombian Vallenato acá y allá

Allegory for a Musical ImagiNation

(p.111) 5 The Colombian Vallenato acá y allá
Musical ImagiNation

María Elena Cepeda

NYU Press

This chapter examines current reworkings of Colombia's traditional vallenato genre, once the exclusive terrain of working-class men of color, as witnessed in the best-selling recordings of the white, upper-class performer Carlos Vives. A 2002 national survey conducted by the Colombian Ministry of Culture reveals that the vallenato music of the nation's northern Caribbean coast is what makes Colombians feel most “Colombian.” Indeed, an article published in the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo that very year declared that “La cultura es costeña” ([Colombian] Culture is coastal), thus highlighting the manner in which, over time, the cultural practices of one region have emerged as an allegory for the nation as a whole. The chapter engages in a dialogue with the influential scholarship of the anthropologist Peter Wade regarding music, race, and Colombian national identity, as he delineates the complex processes via which, in Colombia, “[d]iversity does not just break through the official image of homogeneity; it is contained within it.” It also argues for a transnational and gender-based approach to the study of contemporary Colombian identity and cultural production.

Keywords:   Carlos Vives, vallenato, Colombian music, national identity, Peter Wade, race, diversity, cultural production

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