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Verses and Flows: Migrant Lives and the Sounds of Crossing

The Music Scholar Lecture Series

"Verses and Flows: Migrant Lives and the Sounds of Crossing"

Speaker: Alex E. Chávez

Date: Friday, March 1, 2019 at 4pm

Location: Leah Smith Lecture Hall

Open to the University of Maryland Community | Free

Abstract: In his 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.

Bio: Alex E. Chávez is 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. He has consistently crossed the boundary between performer and ethnographer in the realms of both academic research and publicly engaged work as an artist and producer.

His book Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño (Duke University Press, 2017) is the recipient of three book awards, including the Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology (2018), the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology's Book Prize (2018), and the Association for Latina and Latino Anthropologists Book Award (2018). In addition, Sounds of Crossing was short-listed for the prestigious Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing by the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. Supported by the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation, this book represents the first extended study of huapango arribeño music and explores how “Mexican sounds”—as a locus of aesthetic behaviors, performative acts, and signifying practices—resonate across physical, aural, and cultural borders and what they reveal about transnational migrant lives lived across them.

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