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Nationalism and LatinAmerican Music:Selected Case Studies andTheoretical Considerations. Thomas Turino Latin American Music Review, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2003

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  • Nationalism and Latin American Music : 169

    Latin American Music Review, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2003 2003 by the University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819

    Nationalism and LatinAmerican Music:Selected Case Studies andTheoretical Considerations

    Thomas Turino

    In discussing the criollo-based indepen-dence movements in the Americas during the eighteenth and early nine-teenth centuries, Benedict Anderson notes that these cases are not easilyexplained by the usual means of national linguistic and cultural distinc-tion.1 He writes: All, including the U.S.A., were creole states formed andled by people who shared a common language and common descent withthose against whom they fought (1991, 47). Yet, he asserts, they werenational independence movements (ibid., 49).

    In this essay I argue that they were not initially national independencemovements in the contemporary sense of (1) general inclusion of the statespopulation within the conception of nation or (2) popular sovereignty as thebasis of state sovereignty and legitimacy vis--vis other states. In the earlynineteenth century these ideas about nations and nationalism were not yetcommon, and the Latin American republics were formed according to differ-ent premises. In both Europe and Latin America, nineteenth-century notionsof the nation were grounded in the discourse of Liberalism and criteria ofsufcient territorial and population size, economic viability, and in LatinAmerica at least some agreement regarding political principles. EricHobsbawm argues that a variety of nineteenth-century European nationalistmovements were evidently incompatible with denitions of nation as basedon ethnicity, language, or common history, but, as we have seen, these werenot decisive criteria of liberal nation-making (1990, 33). Hobsbawms obser-vations hold true for the early Latin American republics as well.

    A century later, during the early to middle decades of the twentiethcentury, more inclusive, culturally based conceptions of the nation becameprominent in Latin America, sometimes in the context of populist move-ments. It was not until this point that efforts to link formerly disenfran-chised populations to the state got underway. Consequently, the modular

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    processes of post-colonial musical nationalism, especially the modernistreform or folklorization of indigenous and African-American traditionsalso became common.

    It seems signicant that, in spite of the differing local conditions that ledto populist projects in specic Latin American countries, they occur closetogether in time and produce very similar musical resultssuggesting com-mon underlying models, motivations, and causes. Let me offer the follow-ing points for further discussion. First, populist nationalist movements inLatin America were state-initiated programs that challenged the traditionalruling oligarchies by so-called modernizing capitalist interests;2 populismoccurred within programs to increase domestic and trans-state capitalistactivity beyond the established ruling groups. Second, this situation corre-lated with the increasingly inclusive notions of the nation marked by theexpansion of the franchise, concessions such as labor and land reforms,and increased forging of cultural links with subaltern groups within thestates territory.

    What we see in Latin America from the 1820s to the 1970s, and innationalist discourse more generally, is an ever-increasing inclusivity andacceptance of different social groups within the nation conceived as asociocultural unit with a corresponding increased emphasis on culturalnationalism and reformist transformations of subaltern cultural and musi-cal practices. Contemporary multiculturalism is the most recent exampleof this trajectory. Cultural and musical nationalism did not receive thesame level of state emphasis in the early period because creating a uniedpopulation within the states territory was not a primary criterion of thenation. This situation was to change in the rst half of the twentieth century,the period when cosmopolitan nationalist discourse and practices were todevelop a symbiotic relationship with individual state projects of capitalistexpansion. Here, I offer some general comparisons of nineteenth- andtwentieth-century Latin American nationalist movements to trace thedevelopment of increasing inclusivity and participation, resulting inthe contemporary idea of nation. The comparisons also illustrate twobasic types of musical nationalism that exist currently in many countries:(1) state-generated and elite-associated forms and (2) reformist-popular orfolkloric stylesboth historically layered in relation to elite and inclusiveor populist nationalist periods in Latin America.

    My primary aim in this paper is to map out broad tendencies and tooffer some theoretical ideas for thinking about musical nationalism in LatinAmerica; to this end I have selected examples that clearly illustrate theprocesses I am concerned with. A Bolivian case study is used to discussthe dynamics of early elite nationalism and national anthems. The well-known and rather classic cases of populist nationalism in Peru, Brazil, andArgentina illustrate the emergence of contemporary nationalist discourse

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    and increased state involvement with popular arts. These cases illustratethe relationships between populist nationalism and modernist capitalismas both a more encompassing discursive formation, and as a structure andmode of economic practice. In the nal section of the paper, I compare theintersection of regionalism, nationalism, and capitalist-culture industries inMexico and Peru to illustrate the different dynamics affecting musical na-tionalism in these two countries.

    Certain scholars such as Partha Chatterjee and Michael Herzfeld haveemphasized the need to study nationalism in relation to the particularity ofspecic cases, while others such as Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner,and Anthony Smith have emphasized the general nature of nationalism asa phenomenon. My own position falls somewhere between. As a cosmopoli-tan ideology and political project (Turino 2000), nationalism and culturalnationalist programs exhibit a fair degree of redundancy, making generaltreatments possible and useful. At the same time, conditions within givenstates do require specic consideration as the Peru-Mexico comparisonindicates. For the sake of brevity, I can only discuss relatively few cases inany detail, but it is my hope that the general ideas and tendencies sug-gested here will be of some use for the detailed analysis of musical nation-alism in other Latin American and Caribbean contexts.

    Nationalism as Discourse and Practice

    Nation as a Historical Concept

    In Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, Hobsbawmtraces a series of major shifts in nationalist discourse. Nineteenth-centuryviews of nation and nationalism were inuenced both by Liberalism andMarxism and underpinned by general ideas of social evolution and hu-man progress (1990, 41). Hobsbawm illustrates that throughout much ofthe nineteenth century in Europe, conceptions surrounding the viability ofnations involved a threshold of sufcient size and productivity as an eco-nomic unit, and longevity and strength as a political-military unit, ratherthan the contemporary idea of coterminous relations between a culturalunit and a state. Thus, nation-building involved incorporating differentgroups to expand the nation-state territory, and not the processes of cul-tural homogenization of populations that we associate with nation-building in the twentieth century (ibid., 2538).

    The national [cultural] heterogeneity of nation-states was accepted, aboveall, because it seemed clear that small, and especially small and backward,

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    nationalities had everything to gain by merging into greater nations, andmaking their contributions to humanity through these. (ibid., 34)

    The contemporary idea of the nation as a culturally and linguisticallyunied group with the right to its own state emerged slowly in the latenineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but received a major boost afterWorld War I from the Wilsonian principle of making state borders coin-cide with the frontiers of nationality (culture) and language.

    For the peace settlement after 1918 actually translated this principle intopractice as far as was feasible, except for some politico-strategic decisionsabout the frontiers of Germany, and a few reluctant concessions to theexpansionism of Italy and Poland. At all events, no equally systematic at-tempt has been made before or since, in Europe or anywhere else, to redrawthe political map on national [that is, cultural] lines. (Hobsbawm 1990, 133)

    Throughout his book, Hobsbawm makes a convincing case that the ideal ofcoterminous relations between nations (as homogeneous sociocultural units)and states has always been the exception, not the rule, in practice (e.g., ibid.,186). Nonetheless, it was the Wilsonian principle of articulating nations (asculture groups) with states and national self-determination which is also inprinciple the Leninist one (ibid., 40) that came to dene nationalist dis-course and shape nationalist movements in the twentieth century. Indeed,as applied to ex-colonies, the principle of national self-determination waswritten into the United Nations Charter (Smith 1995, 15).

    Hobsbawm traces the rising emphasis on popular political inclusion toa variety of causes beyond the Wilsonian principle from 1918 to 1950.Foremost among these were new competitors for peoples loyalty such ascosmopolitan socialist movements, especially among