Accepted paper:

Street music and cultural economies of creativity in León and Guanajuato, two 'small' cities in the Mexican Bajío region.


Natalia Bieletto-Bueno (Universidad Mayor (Chile))

Paper short abstract:

This articles offers a comparative analysis of street music making in the industrial city of León and the touristic city of Guanajuato, both in Central Mexico. It debates two different models of urban experience and citizenship as informed by the appropriation of public space by music making.

Paper long abstract:

This article compares the practice of street music making in León and Guanajuato, two neighboring cities in the State of Guanajuato in the Bajío Region of Central Mexico. Since this cultural area has shown a recent and successful record of economic growth, its latest demographic transformations have impacted the local economies of creativity. Based on ethnographic research, non-participant observations and sensorial methodologies that explore into the urban experience as informed by the practice of street music making, I debate how the presence of foreigners acts as a catalyst of cultural change. I differentially assess the presence of foreigners due to the expansion of the car industry in León, and the impact of international tourism in the case of Guanajuato. I conclude that while the agency and creativity of musicians in the city of Guanajuato are limited by well-established dynamics of commodification of immaterial heritage addressing their practice to the "tourist gaze" (Urry 2002); the musicians of León are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the new ethnoscape brought on by the global growth of the car industry. Ultimately, the comparison allows to observe two contrasting models to exercise citizenship through musical appropriation of the public space given the two different inherited legacies associated to each city (Lorentzen 2009).

panel Econ04
"Bring back my neighbourhood!": heritage, expressive cultures and the production of urban ambiances for tourist consumption in the contemporary city