From New York to Rio, from Nairobi to Tokyo, hip-hop, more than any other musical genre or youth culture, has permeated nations, cultures and languages worldwide. Hip-hop emerged from race and class rebellions during the New York City fiscal crises of the 1970's. It flourished under grim conditions as a vibrant expression of youthful exuberance used to overcome repression, marginality, discrimination and hardship. I concentrated my research on the globalization of hip-hop in Cuba and Puerto Rico because each island showcases a unique and thriving rap scene yet holds contrasting cultural and economic contexts. Although Cuba and Puerto Rico share common colonial histories, today they hold polarized relationships with the United States, the birthplace of hip-hop. In the case of Cuba the U.S. embargo is older than hip-hop, offering a case of complete exclusion from direct influences. In contrast, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and thereby intimately linked to American art movements, youth genres, production resources, and market interests.
This dissertation argues that youth utilize hip-hop to express their individual local struggles to unite with each other between Cuba and Puerto Rico as "world citizens" in order to belong to a global majority when they are considered local minorities. Through multimedia production, local artists globalize their repertoires despite geographic, economic or political restrictions. The innovative fieldwork methodology herein termed Ethnographic Production proposes the use of audiovisual media to create a contemporary technological "place" in which youth transcend boundaries to create virtual dialogues through their repertoires in order to overcome isolation between each other. This methodology proposes that the key site for anthropological inquiry is not necessarily to be "discovered" or "located," as traditional disciplinary expectations may assume, rather it can also be "created." As a result, the dissertation demonstrates how the experiences rappers articulated within the media modified their everyday behavior and insinuated a sense of responsibility to each other. This approach differs from traditional uses of media in anthropology used as a form of documentation or dissemination of fieldwork data.
The dissertation assesses how musical repertoires transcend localized contexts between the islands and how access to audiovisual recording and reproductive technology has given youth the tools to (re)produce hip-hop. The research data, consisting of collaborative songs between rappers from each location, reveals that it is through value systems and common civil rights struggles, more so than strictly the four elements of hip-hop (rap, break dance, turntablism and visual art), that youth relate to one another and their global audiences.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 0210. Major: Anthropology. Advisor:Frank Miller. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 445 pages, appendices A-B. Ill.maps, (some col.)
Son Dos Alas: A Multimedia ethnography of hip-hop between Cuba and Puerto Rico..
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