Identity, Music Technology and The Nation-State In Yucatan, Mexico

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina PhD (Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan)

In Mexico national governments have tried, at least since the 1940s, to create a national identity that is deeply rooted in the arts and in what is nationally defined as ‘folklore’. Painting, architecture, dance, cinema, crafts and music have all been supported to some extent by national, regional and local authorities. There is, however, a clear divide between what is considered ‘high art’ and ‘popular art’ in Mexico, and art support programmes clearly show this Separation. While in the United States ‘popular music’ refers mainly to commercial music, in Mexico ‘popular music’ refers mainly to NON-commercial music, and especially to the music of indigenous groups and urban itinerant musicians. In 1989 the National Institute of Culture (CONACULTA) created the Program of Popular Cultures. Each year there is a national call for project competition. The projects are usually submitted by organized groups, asking for funding directed to specific needs, such as the dresses needed by a local group of dancers for a particular fiesta, the funds needed to purchase or to design a particular type of tool used in traditional carpentry, or the music instruments a local group is missing to adequately play music. Here I look at the music-related projects submitted to the Culturas Populares annual competition in the state of Yucatan, beginning in the 1990s. Through these projects we see changes in music taste, instrument choice and organizational patterns across big and small localities in this Mexican state during the last two decades.  [Text Originally in the AAA 2013 Program]