Música patagón : navigating authenticity in Puelche music
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This report examines the emergent genre of “música patagón”, or Patagonian music, in the context of music production among the Puelche, or the eastern Mapuche people of southern Argentina. By analyzing several songs produced by Puelche musicians at the music recording studio Sala Patagón, I argue that the classification “patagón” challenges both Argentine and Mapuche understandings of genre. Música patagón can be defined by three major features: the use of the native Mapuche language of Mapudungun alongside the official Spanish language, the use of lyrical content related to Mapuche traditions and territory, and the use of Mapuche sonic elements such as musical instruments and rhythms. I argue that within the body of a primarily Spanish language text, Mapudungun words serve both iconic and indexical functions, allowing Puelche musicians a means through which to perform a Mapuche identity in the case of limited language fluency within the community. The performance of this identity is complicated by linguistic and cultural ideologies regarding authenticity, both from Mapuche and non-Mapuche audiences. Through the process of writing, recording, and disseminating music in this genre, Mapuche musicians strive to shift their language and culture from the margins of Argentine society into the everyday life of both the transnational Mapuche diaspora and the non-indigenous Argentine public. In these contexts, música patagón functions not only to assert a historically-based Mapuche identity, but also serves to create a novel vision of a future-oriented Mapuche public that transcends national, linguistic, geographic, and even ethnic boundaries. Through the medium of music, Mapuche people in southern Argentina actively create and negotiate a shifting vision of what it means to be Mapuche, what it means to be Patagonian, what it means to be Argentine, and how these identities conflict and intersect in Argentina today
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