Ethnography Review

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The ethnography that I chose to read is Cumbia! Scenes of a Migrant Latin American Music Genre edited By Hector Fernandez and Pablo Vila. This ethnography is about Cumbia and where cumbia originated from and how it became popular. Cumbia originally came from northern Colombia and it has spread through Latin America. Cumbia is also popular in the Americas and cumbia is also a very flexible form of music. Cumbia takes different local musical styles and mixes them together. It also changes its styles and meanings depending on the place. Cumbia is very popular with the working class and it is popular in northern Mexico, Latin American immigrants in New York City, Lima and also upper-class Colombians. This book looks at the different styles of cumbia, the history, musicology, sociology and many more things.

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This ethnography is written in many point of views. In the beginning of the book you do get an introduction of the editors and they talk about their points of view about Cumbia. Hector talks about how he presents himself as a middle-class coste?±o which means that he is a native of Colombia’s Caribbean costal region. Colombia is also where Cumbia comes from. Even though Cumbia did come from Colombia a lot of middle-class Colombians saw Cumbia in a condescending way and also in a racist manner but Hector had working-class women working in his household who made Hector love Cumbia at a young age. Pablo, who is the other editor of the book, grew up in middle-class Argentina and that did not allow him to appreciate Cumbia until later in his life. The editors both explain their hypothesis which is focused on the examination of Cumbias and how nation, region, class, race ethnicity and gender are negotiated, achieved and provisionally and locally enacted by its followers (L’hoeste and Vila, 2013). This book was made with a collection of 11 different essays from different people so I did not feel like the author was biased because there was different authors in the book so you didn’t get just one person’s point of view.

Cumbia has different genres depending on where you are. For example, in Mexico there is Nortena Cumbia. Each genre of cumbia uses different instruments. Nortena cumbia is played with an accordion and it is a lot slower than the originals cumbia. Cumbia brought different countries and societies together with music. Since it is so famous in many places, so many people know about it and get together and listen and dance to it. Cumbia is also used in different films, orchestras and dance centers. Cumbia shows different cultures to enjoy Latin American culture and have an open mind about other cultures.

I feel like I do understand this society better after reading about this music. My family is from Mexico so I grew listening and dancing to this music. It was really interesting reading and learning the different history of Cumbia. My whole life I thought that Cumbia originated from Mexico and I did not know that it actually originated from Colombia so it was really interesting learning that. I also thought it was really interesting how cumbia is really famous with the working class but when it comes to middle class in some places it is seen in a negative way which I did not know. I also got to understand that there is different genres when it comes to cumbia. For example, in Mexico there is Nortena cumbia, cumbia Villera and other types of cumbia. I really enjoyed reading this book and getting to know this genre of music that I grew up listening to and learning where it actually came from and how it all started. It is definitely a genre of music that I love and I understand it more now that I have read this book. I really liked reading all the different points of views and how different cultures see cumbias and how depending on where you are different instruments are used.

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Ethnography Review. (2019, Jun 24). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from
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