Awkward and Uneven Musical Flows: The Politics of Increased U.S.-Cuban Musical Interaction [full paper]

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Latin American Music Center
Since his inauguration, President Obama has relaxed the musical embargo of Cuba following a long period when musical exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba were few and far between. This has made high-profile Cuban performances possible for U.S. musicians like Kool and the Gang, Colombian-American rocker Juanes, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. This period has also seen more Cuban musicians performing in the U.S. because the State Department has resumed issuing cultural exchange visas to Cubans, and the Cuban government is allowing more musicians to travel abroad. While these exchanges can be seen as a part of President Obama’s call for a “new beginning” in the U.S.-Cuban relationship, he also cautioned against overestimating the political impact these exchanges could have. In the same way that contemporary global economic processes create dense interconnections along with areas of exclusion and immobility, recent musical flows between the U.S. and Cuba are also awkward, uneven and discontinuous. While performers distance themselves from any overtly political stance, the disparities between who may participate in these transnational performances, when and where they take place, and the various controversies and reactions they inspire expose a range of attitudes and realities about the U.S.-Cuban relationship and its future. By analyzing the awkward and uneven nature of these performances in both the U.S. and Cuba, this paper explores the potential function of musical exchanges as bellwethers for future engagement between these two nations even when reforms in the U.S.-Cuban relationship appear to be stalling.
Cultural, Conferencia, Cultural Counterpoints, Interactions, Latin America, Latin American Music Center, Music, Musical, Música, Música Latinoamericana, United States, Fiftieth Anniversary, 50th anniversary, Cuba, U.S.-Cuban relationship
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