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Marginal like you! Reconfiguring white upper class identity and citizenship through fusion music in post-war Lima.

Dr Fiorella Montero-Diaz, Keele University

Wednesday 20 March at 5.30 pm

Between 1980 and 2000 Peru was engulfed in an internal war between the state and two armed groups, Shining Path and MRTA. In the aftermath, violence was replaced by silence, distrust, disunity and distance between the Andes and Lima, which reinforced social segregation by class, race and ethnicity. The urban white upper classes have historically topped Lima’s socio-ethnic hierarchy and kept to their own. The scarce academic literature on this stratum mostly describes them as racist, distant, without a culture of their own, hostile towards marginal communities, and largely responsible for the conditions leading to the war.

After the conflict, and in an attempt to approach previously rejected aesthetics and individuals, Limeño upper class musicians have been fusing music associated with the marginal classes and foreign genres. Between 2005 and 2012, the resulting fusion was received in Lima as a representative “national” genre challenging existing cultural, socioeconomic and ethnic segregation. This music enabled a segment of the young white upper-class audiences to reshape their music taste, enhance their experience of the city and imagine and build new citizenships. This transformation was celebrated in social commentary, but also viewed with scepticism as a form of “hipster” cultural appropriation through the reworking of subaltern difference.

Based on ten years of ethnographic research on the white upper classes in Lima, this paper explores the ravages of war as one of the main factors fuelling an apparent Limeño white upper class desire to integrate with the broader Peruvian population through music. It also examines how this class embodiment of marginality and rapprochement with previously rejected genres is interpreted as an opportunity to construct a different upper-class citizenship with access to cultural and political participation beyond music contexts in a “more real” and plural Lima.

Fiorella Montero-Diaz first trained as a classical pianist, went on to a degree in sound engineering, and then settled on ethnomusicology. She received an M.Mus in ethnomusicology at Goldsmiths – University of London and a PhD in music from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research focuses on music hybridity, race, class, the elites, and social conflict in contemporary Lima, Peru. Fiorella’s most recent publications include “Turning Things Around? From White Fusion Stars with Andean Flavour to Andean Fusion Stars with White Appeal” (Popular Music, 2018), “YouTubing the ‘Other’: Lima’s Upper Classes and Andean Imaginaries” (Music, Indigeneity, Digital Media, 2017) and “Singing the War: Reconfiguring White Upper-class Identity through Fusion Music in Post-war Lima” (Ethnomusicology Forum, 2016). Fiorella is currently a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Keele University in the UK, and is part of the board of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology. She is currently co-editing a book entitled Citizenship in the Latin American Upper and Middle Classes. Ethnographic Perspectives on Culture, Politics, and Consumption (Routledge).

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://monterodiaz.eventbrite.co.uk

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom