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The construction of Latin identities and salsa music clubs in London: An ethnographic study.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 08:56 by Patria. Román-Velázquez
This thesis is based on ethnographic research carried out between October 1993 and September 1994 and examines the construction and communication of Latin cultural identities across a selection of salsa music clubs in London. Through an engagement with contemporary theories of globalisation, 'power-geometry' and cultural identity the thesis argues for the need to understand music related practices in salsa clubs in relation to wider social, economic and political processes occurring from without the clubs, but which have an impact in the construction and communication of 'Latin' identities at these sites. In this sense, this thesis proposes three analytical distinct but interrelated levels of analysis as a way of studying cultural identities and salsa clubs in London; that of nation and migration, the identity of places and the performing body. In addressing the issue of nation and migration this thesis considers how Britain's immigration regulations affect the movement of Latin Americans across London, having an impact on the visible presence of Latin American cultural practices across London. This is then related to the geographical location of 'Latin' clubs which seek to attract both Latin Americans and non-Latin people. In discussing the identity of places this thesis provides specific details about salsa clubs in London and describes the practices of club owners, promoters and disc jockeys in constructing the identity of the clubs so as to communicate a 'Latin' identity. The thesis also examines how places with different but particular 'Latin' identities are constituted out of participants' movements across salsa clubs in London. The construction and communication of Latin identities is further developed by considering the relationship between body and music as performed by dancers and musicians. This approach to the study of 'Latin' cultural identities and salsa clubs in London has implications for theoretical discussions about the relationship between cultural identities and places: It suggests that the micro movements of the dancing body in a particular event needs to be related to macro attempts to regulate the movement of bodies at an international level. This, in turn, should be considered in relation to broader spatial relationships across the city of London whereby particular places have been given a 'Latin' identity. This thesis elaborates on this discussion and suggests the need for further exploration and explanation of ongoing relations of power between these three overlapping levels of analysis which are at play in the construction and communication of 'Latin' cultural identities in London.


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Media and Communication

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University of Leicester

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