Music from Amazonia : roots, cosmopolitanism, and regional expression in Iquitos, Peru
MetadataShow full item record
This study explores the construction of regional identities through music performance and mediated forms of public culture in the urban Amazon of Peru, focusing on the city of Iquitos. A fast-developing metropolis, Iquitos's increasing industrial, ecological and economic importance on the national scale has driven a population explosion, drawing migrants from the surrounding jungle whose traditional communities are disintegrating. Urban musicians respond to these changes by attempting to create an inclusive, Amazonian regional community through public culture. A local folkloric genre called pandilla, which has morphed from a style associated mainly with native communities in another region of the Amazon to a distinctly mestizo music and dance from Iquitos, has been particularly central to this process. Shaped through forms of public culture in urban Amazonia that articulate cosmopolitanism and globalization to the local milieu, it connects a folkloric past -- molded by colonial dominance -- to the present, which is steeped in cosmopolitanism and regional pride. This project traces the region’s history beginning with an influential folkloric ensemble, Los Solteritos, which emerged in the early 1960s and came to epitomize local mestizo music, shaping iquiteño esthetics and repertoire, and establishing pandilla as a pan-Amazonian folkloric genre. It shows how this urban folkloric group claims deep ties to rural, indigenous Amazonia, even as it invests heavily in cosmopolitan esthetics and the mechanized reproduction of sound. Finally, this study demonstrates how Explosión, a pop group that performs tecno-cumbia music became the representative pop ensemble of Iquitos by bringing local symbols of cosmopolitanism and folklore into their performances. The ensemble re-packaged pandilla for consumption by various audiences locally and nationally, creating a unique music style at the juncture of community and cosmopolitanism, where industry and consumerism often shape musical trajectories. Overall, through the tecno-cumbiaization of pandilla, Iquitos is coming to terms with its position as an Amazonian city seeking admittance into the nation imaginary and radio, piracy, and public performance are the varied public cultural sites where regional identity is shaped as the Amazon grows in economic and political significance.