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Flamenco Capital: Tradition, Revolution and Renewal in Seville, Spain

  • Author(s): Brown, Joshua
  • Advisor(s): Ritter, Jonathan
  • et al.
Abstract

In this dissertation, I explore how flamenco performance models intimacy and solidarity in Andalusian communities based in Seville and Morón de la Frontera. The adaptability of flamenco performance underscores the inherent decision-making that goes into determining which physically, socially and affectively constructed environments are appropriate, if not ideal, for making music. Since expression within flamenco is largely based upon collective experience and reciprocal execution, the performance space constitutes a defining element of both social and sonic aesthetics. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork, I look at how artists and communities are responding to pressing subjects that involve cultural patrimony and protection as well as political corruption and interference.

The first two chapters chronicle the maintenance and development of a flamenco guitar tradition in Morón that proliferated into the hands of international students beginning in the 1960s. I analyze how the introduction of recording and sound reproduction technologies in Morón served to create new types of mobility that separate sounds from their original bodies and spaces of production and, in so doing, alter and blur the boundaries between public and private in communities of flamenco performers and listeners. Next, I focus on the work of twenty-first century flamenco group Son de la Frontera, who organized the music of Diego del Gastor into lush and varied arrangements. By tracing this music back through particular genealogies of listening, I reveal how the Morón style has become entangled in larger processes of countercultural and transnational encounters that converge and become audible through the work of Son de la Frontera.

In the final two chapters, I discuss how the recent encroachment of institutional capital and decree upon artists and venues has threatened, rather than supported, the local flamenco community in Seville. I demonstrate how members of this community are responding to these attacks through radical forms of performance protest. Highlighting the dangerous and deceptive elements of intangible cultural heritage, I interrogate the ways in which flamenco artists and community members continue to negotiate distinctions between public and private performance in an era of globalized media circulation, neoliberal economic regimes and complex localized structures of kinship and power.

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