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SEMSP Regional Chapter Virtual Conference – Saturday, April 10, 2021

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2021 Conference Program

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2021 Keynote Lecture

“Where’s the Orchestra?”: Trumpism and Hauntological Reckonings of Latinidad and Music in the Early Nineteenth-Century United States

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David García, Professor of Music/Ethnomusicology
University of North Carolina

In his book Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995), Michel-Rolph Trouillot writes that, “even in relation to The Past our authenticity resides in the struggle of our present” (151). Trouillot makes this observation toward forging a way for archival researchers to come to terms with the “tyranny of the facts” and to grapple instead with the purpose of historical knowledge for our lives today. In this talk, I bring the archive of early-nineteenth century settler colonialism, citizenship, and music in North America to the present and center my examination on one audio recording of crying children separated from their families. This recording’s fleeting but painful materialization of the rhetoric of music—that is, in a border agent’s allusion to an orchestra—opens the historical floodgates of White supremacy and latinidad’s own histories of inflicting trauma and pain on Indigenous and African-descended people. By combining artifacts from the Anglo, Spanish, and Mexican colonial archives with online artifacts of Trump’s America, I argue for a nineteenth century musicology of latinidad that resides, as Trouillot advised, in the struggles of our present.

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