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Diaspora 3:3 1994 Eya Aranla: Overlapping Perspectives on a Santería Group María Teresa Vêlez Wesleyan University Recently, scholars in the social sciences and the humanities have emphasized the need to develop theoretical frameworks that will take into account the "process of globalization" in which no society is outside the global system, a world of "movement and mixture" that has emerged as a result of the flow of capital, mass movement ofpopulations, transnational cultural flux, and the circulation ofimages and information across huge distances in a matter of seconds (see essays in Featherstone). Concurrently, others have insisted on the need to reconsider space in the analysis of culture. Many scholars consider the notion of a strictly bounded community or locality to be obsolete and stress the need to develop a theory of interstitiality and hybridity, while keeping in mind the "profound bifocality that characterizes locally lived lives in a global interconnected world" (Ferguson and Gupta 11). This approach is worked out through the explorations of concepts such as "deterritorialization" (Kaplan), a "world in creolization" (Hannerz), "porous cultural boundaries" (Rosaldo), generalized "homelessness" (Said), a "placeless culture," and of"borderlands" (Anzaldua; Rosaldo). The borderland in particular has been regarded as an adequate "conceptualization of the 'normal' locale of the postmodern subject" (Ferguson and Gupta 18). In the field of ethnomusicology, Christopher Waterman has acknowledged the need to reposition ethnomusicological clichés within "an analytical framework concerned with global networks, the creation of nation-states and peoples, and the invention of tradition" (367). However, broad categories and diffuse generalization are of little help in dealing with the specifics oflocal situations, in particular when we address issues of religiously based expressive culture in cities as dense and heterogeneous as New York, the "homeland" of numerous diasporic groups. This problem of the local within the global has been foregrounded by Mark Slobin, who has been developing a framework within the discipline of ethnomusicology that will take into account the process of globalization and its influence on local cultures and traditions. Developing ways of looking at the musics of the world in terms of their relative visibility and their Diaspora 3:3 1994 relation to those hegemonic structures, national or global, within which they operate, Slobin offers a series of analytical categories that are particularly useful when examining diasporic musical traditions in multicultural settings such as New York City. Here, I examine a particular tradition of diasporic music using the insights that may be gained when more flexible categories of analysis, such as those proposed by Slobin, are used. I will attempt to show how borderlands—heterogeneous sites of multilingual cultures—are not limited to strips of land between two nation-states, but are present wherever two or more cultures share a common space: places like London, Paris, or New York, where different music cultures converge , clash, cross over, are born, revitalized, or die, places that have become the locale par excellence of diasporic music and musicians. As my unit of analysis, I have chosen a music group called Eya Aranla, which is based in New York City and performs selected music from the rituals of Santería. Santería is a syncretic religion derived in part from West African religious beliefs and practices brought by the slaves sent to Cuba. Santería continued to be practiced in Cuba after the abolition of slavery and came to be adopted by wider segments of the population. It was brought to the United States by Cuban immigrants, and since then the religion has expanded beyond its original ethnic boundaries; it is now practiced by a large number of African Americans, some white Americans, Puerto Ricans, and other immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America. In New York, the confluence of several diasporic groups within Santería with diverse interests and claims has given rise to "schools ofthought" within the tradition that are frequently in conflict, making it difficult to try to isolate a single diasporic identity within the practitioners of Santería. The Group1 The founder and leader of Eya Aranla is Milton Cardona, a Puerto Rican musician who grew up in New York City. Described as "one of salsa's top percussionists" {Village Voice...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-1568
Print ISSN
1044-2057
Pages
pp. 289-304
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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