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Musicology Colloquium: Alex E. Chavez, "Verses and Flows: Migrant Lives and the Sounds of Crossing"

Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 4:30pm

Lincoln Hall, 124
Dept of Music, 101 Lincoln Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4101, USA

Ethnographer-composer-academic-musician, Alex E. Chávez is the Nancy O'Neill Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also a faculty fellow of the Institute for Latino Studies. His research and teaching explore Latina/o/x expressive culture in everyday life as manifest through sound, language, and performance. His book Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño (Duke 2017) is this 2018 winner of the Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology. An accomplished musician and multi-instrumentalist, Chávez has recorded and toured with his own music projects, composed documentary scores (most recently Emmy Award-winning El Despertar [2016]), and collaborated with acclaimed artists—including Antibalas, Grammy Award-winners Quetzal, and Latin Grammy Award-nominated Sones de México. In 2016, he produced the Smithsonian Folkways album Serrano de Corazón (2016). He recently co-produced the 4th studio album "Define" by hip-hop artist OlmecaCurrently he serves as a Governor for the Chicago Chapter Board of the Recording Academy.

Abstract:

In his award-winning book Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño (Duke 2017), Dr. Alex E. Chávez explores the contemporary politics of Mexican migrant cultural expression manifest in the sounds and aural poetics of huapango arribeño, a musical genre originating from north-central Mexico. In this presentation, he draws on this work to address how Mexican migrants voice desires of recognition and connection through performance, and the politics such desires attain amidst the transnational context of migrant deportability. As a researcher, artist, and participant, Chávez has consistently crossed the boundary between scholar and performer in the realms of academic research and publicly engaged work as a musician and producer. In this presentation, he draws on these experiences to address the politics of his intellectual and creative work and how he engages both to theorize around the political efficacy of sound-based practices, the “voice,” and the disciplinary futures of borderlands anthropology.

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