“Web Jefas: Performing
La Mujer in Mariachi”
The mariachi tradition has long been understood by U.S. practitioners
and aficionados as a male-dominated genre in its musical materials
and as a lived practice. As a folkloric practice permeated
by issues of nationalism, ethnicity, and history, this Mexican
mestizo musical tradition highlights those issues as related
to contemporary, Mexican descent communities. The presence
of women in mariachi within the U.S. can be understood as
a dialectical relationship between musical materials, performance
practice, and professional norms.
This work examines women's
performance practices as the contemporary crossroads of emergent,
female roles in mariachi. The U.S. professional female presence
remains in dialogue with musical portrayals of Latinas in
the repertoire itself and accepted social practice within
the profession. By viewing the performative interpretations
of mariachi as both a profession and music tradition marked
by particular musical materials, conceptions of femininity
and issues of the body in musical, expressive culture can
be more fully addressed.
mariachi professionals and educators in particular have engaged
musical practice as part of a broader awareness of female
embodiments of nationalist identities in cultural representation.
This multi-media engagement has led to an expanded internet
presence in the roles of female educator and professional.
Of particular note is the work pursued by Laura Sobrino, Leonor
Perez, and Sylvia Gonzales on websites that promote gender
specific forms, methods, and ideologies that present mariachi
history and identity as culturally viable for young people,
especially females. A brief survey of these works reveals
how these sites reflect socio-cultural networks among women
that may or may not be formally acknowledged or legitimized
as bases of knowledge for U.S Mexican descent communities.
Copyright © 2003