Production of social meaning : mariachi expression and ethnic identity

Abstract

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Clearly, mariachi performance involves numerous kinds of ensembles and audiences in a wide variety of contexts. The sum effect is that mariachi is performed on a consistent basis throughout much of the Southwest. That its existence has come into the consciousness of people of non-Mexican descent illustrates its inclusion on some level in American popular culture. Both the number and variety of mariachi performances make it difficult to speak to the whole of mariachi expression in general terms. Additionally, from a critical standpoint, it seems unjustified to collapse all forms into a genre discussion, where regional/subcultural intricacies of mariachi expression are effectively denied. Creating a "pan-mariachi" view to stand on its own merits does little to further ethnomusicological theory as related to tensions between case-specific, ethnographic detail and broader insights which give further meaning and "sense" to the details of those contexts. The aim is to create a discussion of a case study which, through additional field experiences with mariachis in other regions, may place this ethnographic detail into a broader understanding drawn upon emic perceptions of where the tradition stands in American culture (and, by extension, Mexican American culture

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