Negro y macho : the Son narrative and Orquesta anacaona
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As female performers of son, the members of Orquesta Anacaona are in dialogue with gendered discourses about the masculinity of son and with feminist discourses about music as a space of resistance to masculine domination simply by existing. Son performance and son scholarship are a “paradoxical space” for the members of Anacaona: their performance of “masculine” music on “masculine” instruments was an act of transgression, while some responses to the group (scholarly and otherwise) reinforce patriarchal structures that devalue women. I examine references to race and gender in Cuban music through son and through portrayals of the mulata in popular theater, both of which are relevant to identities claimed and enacted by Orquesta Anacaona. Using Orquesta Anacaona as a case study, I point out the ways in which narratives of music in Cuba have subordinated women, especially women of color, as well as ways in which Cuban women have resisted oppression through musical performance. In light of the constant presence of women in Cuban music, as well as inconsistently complete scholarship on gender and sexuality in Cuban music, I conclude that a great deal of work can be done on gender in Cuban music and that future scholarship should continue to push toward a third-wave feminist perspective.