From Oaxacans in Los Angeles to Farmers in Colombia: An Ethnography Panel on Musical Practice and Resistance

The UC President's Postdoctoral Fellows Symposium brings five current fellows to UCSC over two days in January. The first panel, on ethnographic scholarship related to Oaxacan-descent musicians in Los Angeles and Colombian farmers, features Xóchitl C. Chávez (UC Riverside) and Kristina Lyons (UC Santa Cruz). This free, public event takes place Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 10:00am-12:00pm, in the Charles E. Merrill Lounge. Panel 2 takes place Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:00am-12:00pm, in the Charles E. Merrill Lounge.

December 15, 2014

By , Assistant Professor, LALS 

Booming Bandas of Los Angeles:  Oaxacan Women and Youth as New Cultural Bearers of Philharmonic Brass Bands
Xóchitl C. Chávez, Department of Music, UC Riverside

Dr. Chávez's research on Oaxacan indigenous communities in California explores how indigenous, diasporic communities reproduce cultural practices, such as the annual Guelaguetza festival, which showcase regional communal dances and musical forms.  By focusing on these forms of cultural expression and the transmission of traditions to both adults and youth, she illuminates the ways in which communities actively claim cultural citizenship on both side of the US-Mexico border.  Through a case study of five Zapotec community-based bandas oaxaqueñas (Oaxacan brass bands), this paper addresses the significance and proliferation of second-generation Oaxacan philharmonic brass bands in Los Angeles.  Imperative in this work are the forms of collective action amongst Oaxacan immigrant communities and the roles women and youth play filling the ranks of musicians and new leadership.  The presence of second-generation bandas oaxaqueñas further exemplifies the diversity of Oaxaca’s ethno-linguistic communities and how they strive to maintain their ethnic identity and a linguistic plurality within a bustling urban space.


Can There Be Peace with Poison?:  Cultivating el Bien Vivir (Living Well) in the Colombian Amazon
Kristina Lyons, Department of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz

Mural of fumigationsWhat does it mean to live in a criminalized ecology in the Andean-Amazonian foothills of Colombia?  How does antinarcotics policy that aims to eradicate la mata que mata (the plant that kills) pursue peace through poison?  Relatedly, what is the significance of cultivating a garden, caring for forest, or growing food when at any moment a crop duster plane may pass overhead, indiscriminately spraying herbicides over the landscape?  Since 2000, the US-Colombia War on Drugs has relied on militarized aerial fumigation of coca plants coupled with alternative development interventions in the aim to forcibly eradicate illicit-based rural livelihoods.  With ethnographic engagement among small farming families in the frontier department of Putumayo, gateway to the country’s Amazon and a region that has been the focus of counternarcotic operations, Dr. Lyons explores the different possibilities and foreclosures for life and death that emerge in a tropical forest ecology pushed to its metabolic limits.  By following farmers and their material practices and life processes, she closely narrates the way soils become an ally in rural resistance to the violence and criminalization produced by militarized, growth-oriented development.  Rather than productivity – one of the elements of modern biopolitics – the stamina of these ecologies relies on organic decay, impermanence, even fragility, that complicates modern bifurcations of living and dying, allowing, she argues, for ecological imaginaries and life processes that do not rely on productivity or growth to strive into existence.


Panel 2 takes place Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:00am-12:00pm, in the Charles E. Merrill Lounge.  For more information, click here.

Click here for the flyer for this event.


This free, public event is sponsored by the Latin American and Latino Studies Department, with support from the Chicano Latino Research Center.