This presentation focuses on Chilean singer-songwriter Víctor Jara (1932-1973), the world-wide icon of politically-engaged popular music in Chile and martyr of that country’s bloody 1973 coup d'etat. Throughout Latin America, Jara has been narrativized as a “hombre nuevo,” Che Guevara’s vision for the ideal revolutionary: masculine, resolute, and willing to sacrifice the personal for a socialist ideal. Close listening of his most iconic love songs of the 1960s, however, renders an artist struggling to define his own masculinity, one torn between the demands of the Communist Party for normative masculinity and the freer conceptions of manhood expressed in late 1960s rock music. It also explores the ways in which Jara's bisexuality shaped some of his career choices and alliances. During the early sixties, in his equally distinguished work in theater and neofolklore, Jara collaborated closely with left-leaning, but queer-friendly collectives that not only welcomed him, but permitted the exploration of divergent sexualities. In contrast, the Popular Unity coalition that Jara actively endorsed starting in 1969 considered homosexuality bourgeois and anti-revolutionary. Through an analysis of his love songs, I propose an new understanding of Jara, one considerably more complex and nuanced than the available hagiographies of a slain political martyr.
About the speaker:
Daniel Party is associate professor at the Instituto de Música of the Universidad Católica de Chile, and Director of Graduate Studies and Research for the School of the Arts at the same institution. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Georgia and is, currently, Cogut Visiting Professor at Brown University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Party received his Ph.D. in Music History from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. (Classical Guitar) from Universidad Católica de Chile. His research focuses on Latin American, U.S. Latino, and Spanish popular music, particularly on the use and value of pop music under authoritarian regimes and on issues of gender and sexuality.
His articles and book chapters have been published in the journal Latin American Music Review, Revista Musical Chilena, and in the books La rueda mágica: Ensayos de música y literature; Music and Francoism; El Lenguaje de la Emociones; the textbook The Musics of Latin America; and Postnational Musical Identities. He is currently working on a book, tentatively titled Boleros & Baladas: Popular Music, Gender and Sexuality in Latin America and Spain (1950-1970).
About the moderator:
Licia Fiol-Matta is Visiting Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University. Her research and teaching interests focus on modern and contemporary Hemispheric Latin American literature and culture, gender and sexuality, critical theory, and music.She is the author of A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral (University of Minnesota Press, 2002) and The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music (Duke University Press, 2017). Fiol-Matta is series co-editor of New Directions in Latino American Cultures (Palgrave).
This event is free and open to the public.