Between > (play) and |<< (Rewind): Media As An Ethnographic Place

Melisa Riviere (University of Minnesota)

From New York to Rio, from Nairobi to Tokyo, hip-hop, more than any other musical genre or youth culture, has permeated nations, cultures and languages worldwide. “Between > (Play) and <<| (Rewind): Media as an Ethnographic Place” is about the experience of conducting research on the globalization of hip-hop and its local expressions between Cuba and Puerto Rico. Using songs and music videos produced as primary research data “Between > (play) and <<| (rewind)” proposes hip-hop as an avenue for the study of social behavior and media as a ‘place’ for contemporary anthropological inquiry. The research consists of collaborative songs produced between rappers from each location who, due to political restrictions between nations, could not personally meet one another. The research reveals that it is through value systems and common civil rights struggles, more so than strictly the four elements of hip-hop (rap, break dance, turntablism and visual art), that youth relate to one another and their global audiences. “Between > (play) and <<| (rewind): Media as an Ethnographic Place” frames the research experience, bringing to the forefront a fieldwork methodology titled Participatory Ethnographic Production that offers the discipline a manner in which to use media beyond a means for archiving, documenting and disseminating cultural elements. This analysis is further intertwined with an overview of the art of politics (and the politics of art) between two nations that do not have diplomatic relations with one another for over 50 years.  [Text Originally in the AAA 2013 Program]