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Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing

By Margaret E. Dorsey

Publication Year: 2006

A uniquely Tejano version of the old-fashioned political barbeque, the traditional South Texas pachanga allowed politicians to connect with voters in a relaxed setting where all could enjoy live music and abundant food and drink along with political speeches and dealmaking. Today's pachanga still combines politics, music, and votes—along with a powerful new element. Corporate sponsorships have transformed the pachanga into a major marketing event, replete with celebrity performers and product giveaways, which can be recorded and broadcast on TV or radio to vastly increase the reach of the political—and the commercial—messages. This book explores the growing convergence of politics, transnational marketing, and borderlands music in the South Texas pachanga. Anthropologist Margaret Dorsey has observed some one hundred pachangas and interviewed promoters, politicians, artists, and local people. She investigates how candidates and corporations market their products to Hispanic consumers, as well as how the use of traditional music for marketing is altering traditional forms such as the corrido. Her multifaceted study also shows clearly that the lines of influence run both ways-while corporate culture is transforming the traditions of the border, Tejano voters/consumers only respond to marketing appeals (whether for politicians or products) that resonate with their values and the realities of their lives. Far from being an example of how transnational marketing homogenizes culture, the pachanga demonstrates that local cultures can exert an equally strong influence on multinational corporations.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book reflects the seemingly boundless capacity of South Texans to excite, capture, and carry my imagination.Without you, this ethnography would not be the fascinating testament to contemporary U.S. political culture that it is. Thank you for providing such rich information and conveying it with such passion. In Hidalgo County, I...

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pp. 1-20

Scissors in hand, I sat in my apartment gleaning the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for commentary on the 1998 political campaigns when a photograph made me pause. Rising out of a sea of sign-waving supporters, George W. Bush and Tejano music icon Emilio Navaira stood side by side with their hands clasped together high above their cowboy hats. The article...

PART I: Political Pachangas, Marketing, and Music

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ONE: A History and Style of Association: Music, Pachangas, and Politics in South Texas

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pp. 23-50

Political marketers deploy music and pachangas as a strategy to build publics by producing attachments to a politician, a political campaign, and a political party. In this chapter, I contextualize the pachangas that took place in Hidalgo County during the year 2000 political season by providing a general background of borderlands music and pachangas...

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TWO: Marketing Pachangas:The Budgirls

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pp. 51-68

In this chapter, I focus on the use of direct live-music events in corporate marketing campaigns to produce publics. National and transnational marketers herald live-music event marketing because they believe it creates “passion” and brand loyalty. Experienced corporate marketers use this tool...

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THREE: Budweiser’s Hispanic Scholarship Fund Fiesta Extravaganza

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pp. 69-86

On Friday, November 3, the early voting polls closed, and Hidalgo County’s election commission began to prepare for Election Day. Al Gore’s frenzied itinerary for the last few days was frequently discussed on radio, television, and in the newspapers. November 5 was the last Sunday in the campaign to attend and host pachangas, and oddly, LaMantia Budweiser...

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FOUR: Out of a Social Gathering, Music: Galvanizing Persons into Politics

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pp. 87-120

In this chapter, I demonstrate that political climate, political style, musical style, and the songwriter’s attitude resoundingly effect an audience’s entrance into politics. By analyzing musicians’ and politicians’ narratives about the production and reception of two political campaign songs—“El Corrido del Juez” and “El Aliseda es el Bueno,” written for Ed Aparicio and Ernest Aliseda, respectively...

PART TWO: Democracy and the Borderlands, Two Versions

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FIVE: Pachanga Moves: A Local Republican and a National Democratic Gathering

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pp. 123-146

Events run the risk of decreasing the velocity of objects in motion, and one of the more obvious ways in which they do this is through not connecting with other channels, sizes, scales, and event forms—by lacking intertextuality. My discussion of pachangas started with Letty Lopez’s dance, an event form that is most clearly in response to (and contact with) the traditional,...

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SIX: Ace Hardware: National Corporate Marketers Learn How the Locals Do It

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pp. 147-167

This statement anticipates the process of a group of national corporate officers and marketers learning about and making plans for their next campaign. Central to this process is a discourse about Hispanic market share in which music and family play a prominent role. The commentary above shows marketers beginning to understand the area’s...

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SEVEN: A Private Event for a Public Servant: “Mr. Vega” Meets Modernity

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pp. 168-183

By definition a private gathering is not known publicly, and this is the case with Judge Eloy Pulido’s live-music fund-raising event described below. My encounters with Pulido provide a useful frame to enter the semi-exclusive and often guarded world of fund raising and live-event marketing. This event also provides a means of illuminating issues regarding traditional, patriarchal South Texas voting...

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pp. 184-192

In this text, I have focused on the ways in which politicians and marketers deploy democracy through music. My ethnographic study of the pachanga indicates that marketers, candidates, and musicians have taken this traditional form and used it to achieve political ends and articulate local knowledge in a global context. The form of pachanga has never been fixed,...


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pp. 193-205


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pp. 207-222


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pp. 223-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780292796263
E-ISBN-10: 0292796269
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292706903
Print-ISBN-10: 0292706901

Page Count: 247
Illustrations: 1 b&w photo
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 70053493
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pachangas

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Campaign funds -- Texas.
  • Business and politics -- Texas, South.
  • Corporate sponsorship -- Texas, South.
  • Festivals -- Texas, South.
  • Texas, South -- Social life and customs.
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