Tag Archives: music

Chilean Popular Poetry and Biblical Psalms

Martinez, Chile, Santiago Figueroa

Santiago Figueroa. Folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music.

by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish. 

Shortly after arriving in Chile, I went to the public library of Doñihue in order to search for bibliographic material and, fortunately, there I met Santiago Figueroa Torres; a folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music. Talking informally while drinking coffee, I explained to him my thoughts about this investigation and he gave me his vision as an expert on the subject. Consequently, aided by this chance, his insights have served me as a guide for reading the bibliographic material found and redefining my research question.

What similarities exist between the Cantus to the divine cultivated in Chile and the Christian psalms in the Latin American version of the Catholic Bible? This is the question the present research will try to answer. For this purpose, in addition to ponder on some similarities, I will analyze and contrast two songs by the Chilean musician Violeta Parra (Maldigo del alto cielo and Volver a los 17) with the psalms 143 and 148.

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Upcoming Events November 6-11, 2017

CLACS has yet another jam-packed week of events for you to attend, engange with, reflect on, and enjoy. If you are unable to attend the event in person, check out our facebook page, because there is a good chance that there will be a live-stream. This week, events range from critically analyzing the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, celebrating Mexican music, and collaborating with Quechua speakers and students from across North America.


A roundtable on the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. How have environmental and colonial histories shaped recent events? What fragile infrastructures and uncertain sovereignties have been revealed?

Monday, November 6, 2017
6:00 – 9:00 pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Auditorium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

More information about this event can be found here.


Every year, The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at NYU hosts “#MotherTonguesUnited”, an event tied to a movement to unite speakers of historically undervalued languages in an effort to dispel myths and stereotypes surrounding those languages. Many languages have been included in this movement, including Papiamentu, Haitian Creole, and Garífuna.

This year, CLACS is excited to be hosting a Language Fair that focuses on less-commonly taught languages! This special edition of #MotherTonguesUnited aims to celebrate the work of various language departments and centers throughout NYU while creating a community space where students can learn about and engage in these languages.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
4:00 – 8:30 pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Atrium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

More information about this event can be found here.


Mexico is the 2nd largest latin market right after Brazil. Yet, it shows no signs of stopping. Join us to as we discuss the impact of Mexican, and Latin music, in the global market, as we unravel the stories of some Mexican professionals in the music industry and musicians, as well as music industry professionals who deal with Latin American content. We will explore the cultural challenges and commercial opportunities that Mexican music has in the American market, and we will also discuss the evolution of Mexico’s music industry.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
NYU Kimmel 405
60 Washington Sq S

More information about this event can be found here.


Yamay Mejias Hernandez, also known as “La Fina,” will discuss her career as an Afro-Cuban feminist rapper and Director of “Somos Mucho Mas.” Somos Mucho Mas is one of the only female-led hip-hop initiatives in Cuba and serves as an intersectional anti-racist and feminist platform for Afro-Cuban women. As a rapper and community organizer, in a country that claims to have solved issues with racism, La Fina presents a unique perspective as she uses hip-hop to fight for social change.

Friday, November 10, 2017
5:30 – 8:30 pm
Social and Cultural Analysis, Flex Space
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

More information about this event can be found here.


This annual event aims to promote an exchange of ideas between college students, professors, and the community at large who share an interest and passion for Quechua language and Andean culture. We are working towards creating a space for people of all ages and backgrounds to become dynamic leaders within their communities. Our goal is to foster networks of indigenous language advocates.

Saturday, November 11, 2017
10:00 am – 7:00 pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Atrium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

More information about this event can be found here.

Peruvian Sociolinguist, Miryam Yataco, Writes About the Social Significance of Liberato Kani and “El Quechua en Resistencia”

Liberato Kani: El Quechua en Resistencia

There are artists that represent the ethos of their times, the Zeitgeist—anticipating, reflecting and shaping the aesthetics of the present, and the times to come.

I met Liberato Kani when he invited me to participate in his latest musical video Harawi Boombap. Although I was the oldest in the crowd of really young people, and felt a bit out of generation, I also felt quite honored to be part of this new video clip. By this time, I had been keenly following Liberato´s production. I knew I was witnessing an individual pioneering something new. In every generation there are artists who represent and condense a specific moment in history and who also announce new paradigms. Liberato, I felt at that moment, had begun generating new mappings for the language, the mapping of Quechua in Peru´s urban space.

Quechua has in Liberato Kani an emerging artist who represents the language’s vitality and signals without any doubt, hope and strength. Through his urban intervention, Quechua shows its colors and dynamism from within. This, I think is being felt by many – young and not so young –in Peru at present.

An artist, characterized by using the Quechua language as a motif and also as a medium in his rap-poetry creations, Liberato erupts in an almost all Spanish-only pop-rap Peruvian musical environment. Young people in Peru now have the possibility to listen, sing and maybe start speaking and understanding some Quechua without participating in a formal class.

Liberato is associated by birth and by his language patrimony to Andahuaylas and San Juan de Lurigancho two places characterized as highly Quechua-embedded. You are sure to hear the language in these two places. Quechua is spoken by more than 4 million speakers in Peru. These are large speech communities that have been traditionally invisible to a monolingual Spanish-only state. For the 12 to 10 million of speakers of Quechua in South America, exclusion, marginalization and language discrimination have all been part of their daily lives … personally and collectively, for years and years and years.

Over the past decade, efforts on part of some Latin American countries have been made to balance inequalities, resulting in new laws on recognition, protection and ¨inclusion¨ of indigenous language communities. For some languages at risk, this comes all too late. Many languages are on a brink of disappearing. Having but a few mother- tongue speakers at an elder age, their future seems grim. Recent generations have been denied the possibility to inherit their own language patrimony, a phenomenon we may call “stolen tongues.”

Linguist Ghilad Zuckerman sees these threatened languages that still hold potential for recovery as “sleeping beauties¨. Though the revival or revitalization processes are strongly associated to speech communities´ strong input. The perception that efforts to save and revitalize these languages are solely a matter of Language Policy intervention* crafted by official (usually non-indigenous) representatives of these modern Latin American states is again false hope. In this context, Liberato Kani’s rap shows up, as a surprise, and with a dignified response.

Artists like Liberato Kani emerge from the community, self-made, self-developing. It represents an intervention that is from the heart of Quechua-speaking communities, Quechua youth, from the ones long made invisible. This makes Liberato an authentic sign of language revival… a wave born strictly from within.

Liberato appears in the spirit of the language itself—strong, self-assured, articulate, and above all brave. With his demeanor and his spoken word, Liberato says, I am not a victim, I am proud of who I am, I am proud and grounded in my elders’ spoken word. This is who I am and I make no excuses for me, I am proud of who I am, in strength I am here to stay—me, my language my heritage, I am this country. Here in a master interview by El Montonero.

Moreover Liberato (a son of a Master Danzaq, Picaflor de Umamarca) comes across as an independent broker; he is an indie multimedia producer, sharing his work through the use of technology and the virtual world. He is what Zapata and Biondi call a Nómade Electronal**, going straight from the Oral register into the electronal or virtual world and redefining social interaction between Quechua speaking youth and mainstream Peru.

Quechua siminchikta tukuy ñankunapi rimasun wawqipaniykuna
– Liberato Kani

¨Allá los que quieran ver el quechua y quechua hablantes como excluidos. Allá quienes quieren seguir viéndolos como pasado fosilizado. Si la escribalidad aplastó esas voces hoy la electronalidad se las devuelve. Con mirada al futuro.¨
Dr. Eduardo Zapata

* Revitalizing languages require a lot more than Top-Down efforts.
** Nómades Electronales: Lo que nos dicen las escrituras de los jóvenes (2017) Eduardo Zapata Cárdenas, Juan Biondi Editorial(es): Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas. Lugar de publicación: Lima.

Author: Miryam Yataco, language rights advocate and sociolinguist. Her research has focused on language policies, and language practices marked by exclusion, marginalization and language discrimination.

Liberato Kani
You can join his Facebook Page at Liberatokani
Liberato Kani en HIP HOP PERU video
Liberato Kani in the NEWS video
Liberato Kani at the TEATRO NACIONAL with Uchpa and La Sarita video
JAMMIN Liberato Kani “Mana urmaspa” video
Liberato Kani and Renata Flores

Presentations and Bibliographical References consulted:

Biondi, Juan y Zapata, Eduardo
1994 Representación oral en las calles de Lima. Universidad de Lima.
2006 La Palabra Permanente. Verba manent, scripta volant: Teoría y prácticas de la oralidad en el discurso social del Perú.” Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú.

Biondi, Juan, y Zapata, Eduardo
2017 NÓMADES ELECTRONALES. Lo que nos dicen las escrituras de los jóvenes: había que echarse a andar nuevamente. @Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas UPC.

Language Rights, Derechos Linguisticos, Lenguas en riesgo. Access on Facebook

Zuckermann, Ghilad: Sleeping Beauties Awake. Access

De la palabra escrita a la palabra hablada

Una primera aproximación a la poesía dominicana reciente

Adalber Salas Hernández, PhD Candidate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, NYU

Proviniendo de un contexto hispanoparlante, el deseo de estudiar la poesía escrita en español en el Caribe no siempre implica una tarea sencilla. Especialmente si uno ha decidido estudiar el trabajo de poetas jóvenes, que han publicado un libro o quizás dos, y cuya difusión suele ser impar –salvo en contados, interesantísimos casos. El asunto se complica un poco más cuando se trata de la poesía dominicana: los espacios de circulación de sus autores no consagrados no siempre son fáciles de hallar. No obstante, en cuestión de días uno se encuentra con un trabajo poético vivo, múltiple, que crece devorando horizontes.

Tratándose de mi investigación, la poesía dominicana reciente es la practicada por autores nacidos a partir de 1970. Un límite arbitrario, sin duda, pero sumamente útil. En este sentido, mi primer contacto en República Dominicana fue Frank Báez. Poeta, cronista, narrador, traductor y editor, junto a Giselle Rodríguez Cid, de la revista Ping Pong, Frank es además miembro del colectivo multidisciplinario El Hombrecito –donde también se encuentra el excelente poeta Homero Pumarol–, el cual fusiona de modo muy interesante poesía y música (en su canal de YouTube pueden escucharse canciones individuales, discos enteros y hasta alguna grabación en vivo). Su quehacer lo coloca en una suerte de encrucijada: es uno de los nervios principales de la nueva poesía del país –no solamente como uno de sus practicantes más reconocidos, sino también como difusor. Gracias a su inestimable ayuda, he podido conocer dos de los principales trabajos antológicos realizados en este campo: el número especial dedicado por la revista Punto de Partida, de la UNAM, a la poesía dominicana actual (No. 171, enero-febrero de 2012) y la muestra Presencias reales, publicada en la propia revista Ping Pong, en el 2011. A través de estos trabajos antológicos, he podido conocer la obra de poetas como Ariadna Vásquez Germán, Alejandro González Luna, Rossalinna Benjamín o Luis Reynaldo Pérez: escrituras ágiles, con brío, muy diferentes entre sí, que sumé de inmediato a las que ya formaban parte de mi investigación.

En la poesía dominicana reciente, la palabra escrita mantiene un vínculo singular con la palabra hablada: siempre una está a punto de convertirse en la otra. La letra vive al borde de la voz. Cabe recordar aquí el trabajo de la poeta y performer dominicana Josefina Báez, el cual, si bien no cae en los límites de mi investigación, es necesario leer –y escuchar, y ver–, pues resulta fascinante. Y cabe también recordar que, aparte de El Hombrecito, la figura de Rita Indiana: mejor conocida por su música (Rita Indiana y Los Misterios) y por su producción narrativa, también encontré en ella una poeta de singular potencia. En esta primera aproximación, un hecho se destaca de buenas a primeras: en la poesía reciente de República Dominicana, la palabra tiene un pasaje permanente de ida y vuelta para viajar de la escritura al habla.

CLACS Hosts Series on the Legacy of Brazilian Slavery

João Reis, Where Slaves Were Slaveholders, Poster

João Reis, Where Slaves Were Slaveholders, Poster

Written by CLACS MA Candidate Constanza Smita Ontaneda Rehman-Khedker

Tomorrow, Thursday April 30th, CLACS will be proud to host a series of events on Brazilian Quilombos, with a live performance by Rio de Janeiro’s Maga Bo and BNegão. These two consecutive events are part of a larger series that focuses on the history, culture, and current affairs of the African Diaspora in the Americas.

Starting at 5pm, distinguished historian João José Reis (Universidade Federal da Bahia), will discuss the history of slave-owning slaves in Brazil in a presentation titled “Where Slaves were Slave Owners, the Case of 19th Century Bahia.”  

Born in Brazil, João José Reis received his PhD in History from the University of Minnesota.  He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Princeton University, Brandeis University, the University of Texas (Austin), and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris).  Reis has also been a Research Fellow at the University of London, Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), and the National Humanities Center.  Currently he is a Professor of History at the Universidade Federal da Bahia.  Reis’ books include Slave Rebellion in Brazil: the 1835 Muslim Revolt in Bahia (The Johns Hopkins University Press) and Death is a Festival: Funeral Rites and Rebellion in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (North Carolina Press), among others.  This lecture is co-sponsored by the Africa Diaspora Forum at NYU and Fordham University.

Quilombo do Presente e do Futuro, Poster

Quilombo do Presente e do Futuro, Poster

Later at 7pm, Maga Bo and BNegão will present “Quilombo do Futuro: The Contemporary Social and Cultural Resonance of Brazil’s Maroon Communities.”  Their performance will use the notion of runaway slave communities as an onset for the interaction of traditional and contemporary music in the country.  Runaway slave communities known as quilombos, were a fixture in Brazil during the colonial and early imperial eras.  Even after emancipation in 1888, quilombos remained part of the Brazilian social and cultural landscape.  Following the 1988 Constitution, which granted quilombo descendants land rights, they also became formally acknowledged communities with their own self-managed territories, a public recognition of a centuries-old settlement pattern.  Today’s comunidades quilombolas serve as gathering points for current practitioners of Afro-Brazilian culture as well as reminders of Brazilian historical development.   Maga Bo and BNegão will be joined by Professor Mariléa de Andrade (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) who will situate the artists’ work in a social context by addressing some of the contemporary challenges and successes of the quilombo movement in present-day Brazil.

The globetrotting U.S.-born, Brazil-based Maga Bo cranks out music that’s often described as transnational bass.  It’s just as heavy on the low-end as it is melodic in its use of traditional acoustic instrumentation and street recordings.  With well over a decade of production experience from his mobile studio that he has set up all across Africa, South America, India, and Southeast Asia, Maga Bo has released genre-bending, mind-blowing albums on venerable labels like Tru Thoughts, Post World Industries, and Soot.  He has worked and performed in over 40 countries including performances at WOMEX, Mundial and Transmediale.  His latest project, record label and compilation series Kafundó, is bringing to light Brazilian bass music essentially unknown to outside its home country – an effort that earned praise from Vice Media.

BNegão is a versatile vocalist and songwriter who was instrumental in Planet Hemp, one of Brazil’s pioneering hip-hop ensembles.  He later struck out on his own to form BNegão & Os Seletores de Frequencia, something like a Brazilian Bad Brains — their albums jump from punk to dub to hip-hop to soul just like the DC band did back in the day.  BNegão won the Orilaxé Prize for best black music singer in Brazil back in 2004.  His band’s 2012 album, Sintoniza Lá, won the MTV Video Music Brasil award for best album.  Later in 2012, he was part of the official Rio de Janeiro cultural delegation to the London Summer Olympic Games, where he performed in the closing ceremony in homage to the Afro-Brazilian musician Chico Science.  He and his band are currently recording their third album.

Maga Bo Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/magabo

BNegão & Seletores de Frequência: http://bnegaoseletores.com.br/

A Visual Journey Through Afro-Latin Soundscapes

During the Fall 2013 semester, Professor Dylon Robbins taught the interdisciplinary seminar Afro-Latin Soundscapes. In the accompanying colloquium series, CLACS hosted a series of musicians and scholars that spoke of the way music crosses cultural boundaries.

Without mixers and soundboards the songs have taken on a organic sound that has helped shape hip-hop’s role as a legitimate expression of Cuban culture. Hailing from the industrial suburbs of Havana, the husband and wife team Alexey and Magia formed Obsesión in 1996. Alexey has become a nexus for various forms of artistic expression, promoting the convergence of painting, sculpture, dance, and poetry within the hip-hop scene. Magia is known as an eloquent advocate of women’s rights.

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Afro-Latin Soundscapes: Cyro Baptista

On Monday, December 9th, CLACS hosted its last lecture of the Fall 2013 research colloquium series, “Afro-Latin Soundscapes.” The lively performance and subsequent talk was led by Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, an award-winning recording artist who has worked with various musicians within different genres, including Yo-Yo Ma, John Zorn, and Carlos Santana – just to name a few.


Cyro Baptista

After an introduction by Professor Dylon Robbins, Batista began his talk mentioning the Brazilian avant-garde predisposition for cannibalistic consumption of the West. Baptista’s remarks were a perfect precursor for the rest of the dazzling, performative lecture, where he expressed that Antropofagia is, in fact, what his music is about. He emphasized that in some ways, his musical stylings are about “the colonial impulse of wanting everything that does not belong to him.” Referring back to his first experience in U.S. musical education in Woodstock, NY, he proudly explained that through his music, he continually “eats Celine Dion, George Bush and John F. Kennedy.” The conversation surrounding his musical practice continued in a jovial, humorous way, despite the fact that Antropofagia primarily deals with the seriousness of confronting and re-interpreting Western cultural imperialism.

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