ˇSabor!  Salsa Music in the United States


Core Concepts and Research for this virtual exhibition

Are Courtesy of and based on the scholarly work of

Frances R. Aparicio,


Research Projects in LATINO POPULAR MUSIC:

 Listening to Salsa:  Gender, Latin popular music and Puerto Rican cultures (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), is an interdisciplinary analysis of gender politics in Puerto Rican society as these are articulated in popular music and fictional narratives.  I examine the historical discourses that constructed racial binaries out of the danza and the plena, and the resistance to the creolization (or Africanization) of European dance forms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century expressed by elite intellectuals such as Salvador Brau and others.  A second section on “The Plural Sites of Salsa” explores the various social, cultural and national meanings and values that Salsa has for diverse communities of Latinos as well as for Anglo America.  I also discuss the processes of appropriation, depolitization and erotization that are part and parcel of U.S. mainstream society’s desire for this music.  In addition, I analyze the discursive representations of women in the lyrics of salsa songs, merengues, boleros, and Latin rap, also foregrounding the dialogues and contestatory voices of women singers and composers.  Finally, the book concludes with an interpretation and summary of audience reception research, what I call “listening to the listeners.”  Here both Latina and Latino interviewees reveal that there are diverse interpretive communities among Latinos and that women and men give meaning to music in different, gendered ways.


WOMEN SALSERASIn some more current articles, I examine how figures such as Celia Cruz, La India and La Lupe serve as embodiments of national and transnational identities through their songs, their per formative styles, and through their dress and stage personas.  I also analyze the contribution of La India in constructing a feminist genealogy of music that recognizes the impact of earlier figures such as La Lupe and Celia Cruz in the development of Salsa music.




Musical Migrations:  Transnationalism and Cultural Hybridity in Latin/o America co-edited with Candida Jaquez with Maria Elena Cepeda (forthcoming).  This anthology is a collection of essays about the transnational circulation of music across the Americas and the shifting meanings of musical forms and genres as they are produced and consumed by diverse audiences.  It also examines the dialectics between tradition and modernity and interracial collaborations in Latino popular music.

 The Politics of Language among U.S. Latino/as:   For many years now I have taught courses on this topic and have been writing on the meaning of both Spanish and English for U.S. Latinos.  As a literary critic, I have examined the “language on language” in Latino poetry as well as the role of code-switching in interlingual poetry from the 1970s and early 1980s.   I am currently collecting students’ linguistic autobiographies in order to examine what I call “ differential bilingualism”, that is, the different social values accorded to being bilingual based on the speaker’s social location and racial identity.  By foregrounding the linguistic conflicts that young Latinos and non-Latinos have faced growing up I am able to trace, through anecdotes of the everyday, how subordinate groups in the United States have experienced the dispossession of Spanish in various degrees.  In contrast, bilingualism has become an economic asset in an increasingly globalized market and the learning of Spanish as a second-language has become increasingly significant among college students.

Bio & resume