Urban dialogues : rethinking gender and race in contemporary Caribbean literature and music

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2013-05

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How are music, literature and migration connected? How are these transnational conversations affecting the way countries construct their national discourses today? This dissertation studies how gender and race are constructed and questioned in the 'cross-genre' dialogue among contemporary urban literature, performance, and reggaeton music produced in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and New York City from the1990s-2000s. This ongoing dialogue of marginalized music and literature, made possible by the accessibility of new media, results in a unique urban configuration in which gender and racial identities are negotiated, resulting in the reinforcement of a trans-Caribbean cultural circuit. Following a non-traditional structural approach this dissertation proposes a new analytical and reading model beginning with the Puerto Rican diaspora's cultural production in New York City as a point of departure, and from there expands to the rest of the Spanish Caribbean. I specifically focus on the writings of poets Willie Perdomo (NYC), and Guillermo Rebollo Gil (PR), the videos and lyrics of the reggaeton artists Tego Calderón and Calle 13 (PR), and the music and literary work of Rita Indiana Hernández (DR) in order analyze the complex interplay between music and literary texts to convey gender and racial imaginaries. I conclude that these literary, cultural, and performative texts abolish "national" configurations and are being replaced by broader definitions of "us," race, and gender to address the complexities of contemporary Caribbean transnational identitary circuits.

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