"Hybridity All the Way Down"?: Music, Cultural Identity and Mestizaje in an Era of Globalization
Theoretical models for the study of culture have been built until recently upon static and monolithic concepts of cultural identity. Ethnomusicological scholarship, for example, has approached musical traditions as unchanging (or slowly changing) indivisible unities, characterized by unique features and free from extraneous influences. Whereas these musical traditions were considered “authentic” and privileged as objects of study, modern and mixed developments were considered of secondary interest at best, and often dismissed as contaminated hybrids.
In a complex cultural world marked by widespread globalization, this emphasis on “authentic” and “pure” identities has become increasingly problematic. In Ethnomusicology as well as in the Humanities in general, notions of hybridity and mestizaje have gained prominence, and mixed cultural phenomena are often celebrated as an integral and positive aspect of the globalization of the contemporary world. This new interest in hybridity and the fluidity of culture has usually been theoretically articulated around postmodern notions of identity as constantly shifting, free-floating signifiers. However, substituting an obsolete concept of cultural identity with postmodern notions that obscure or erase a sense of historicity and agency raises new problems. I will argue that a theory of selfhood as developed by Paul Ricoeur in Oneself as Another is a productive starting point for approaching the question of identity in hybrid cultural phenomena. Hybridization, I will conclude, is not opposed to notions of identity, tradition, or authenticity; rather, it is a good example of the dialectical process of identity formation common to any tradition.
Angeles Sancho-Velázquez (United States)
Assistant Professor of Arts and Humanities
Department of Liberal Studies College of Humanities and Social Sciences
California State University Fullerton
Angeles Sancho-Velázquez is an assistant professor of Arts and Humanities in the Department of Liberal Studies at California State University, Fullerton. Her doctoral degree is in Systematic Musicology, with a specialty in Aesthetics. She also has a background in Philosophy and Music Education. Her published articles and conference papers deal with a variety of topics concerning the interpretation of music in a cultural and intellectual context. She is currently working on a book on the disappearance of the practice of musical improvisation in the Western Classical tradition.
Person as Subject
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)