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Intoxicated by Jenni Rivera: The Erotics of Fandom, Sonic Pedagogies of Deviance, and the Politics of Pirujeria

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This dissertation uses Jenni Rivera’s music, performances, and fandom to examine the Chicana and Mexicana immigrant experience in the 21st century United States and Mexico. A particular focus is placed on how working-class women negotiate class, gender, race, motherhood, sexuality, and body-image through the reception of her music. Chicana singer Jenni Rivera passed away in an airplane crash on December 9th, 2012 and was the first female singer from Southern California to achieve international stardom in the genre of Banda Sinaloense. She sold more than 20 million records worldwide and garnered a working-class girl and women fan base that admired her for being a proud single-mother who took ownership of her sexuality, survived domestic violence, and fought for the rights of immigrants and poor women. Through participant observation, fan interviews, and analysis of music, performance, and fan cultural production, I argue that Rivera and her fans created an intergenerational women-centered space that transmitted sonic pedagogies of deviance– lessons that center “erotic sovereignty” and a refusal of heteronormative respectable femininity. Similar to Cathy Cohen’s argument that we should look at marginal figures like punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens – to understand deviance as resistance – Intoxicated by Jenni centers three marginal tropes of Rivera’s fandom that destabilize normative categories of womanhood, sexual identity, and body politics – 1) The Malandrina, the Chicana party girl who is viewed as promiscuous, hypersexual and deviant for drinking; 2) The Madre Soltera, the queer single mother who is constantly viewed as broken, damaged, and shamed for breaking the heteronormative household; and 3) La Dama Divina, the fat working-class Latina who is marked as visually disgusting for not having proper “Latina curves.” I show how the radical disruption of respectability that Rivera and her fans engaged in enriches our understandings of moral panics around Chicana/Mexicana sex-positive cultures.

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This item is under embargo until June 24, 2025.