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Mariachi, Myths and Mestizaje: Popular Culture and Mexican National Identity

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This article examines mariachi as a central mimetic myth in the construction of a unified national imagery in Mexico, in large part due to its embodiment of mestizaje: the racial and cultural mixing of Spanish and Indigenous cultures and people. Mariachi is a national myth that copies and borrows from other national myths, thus articulating multiple symbols and meanings simultaneously. In particular, mariachi performs its authenticity through the blood, sweat and tears of its performers and its performances. However, the relationship between mariachi and the idealised male mestizo is continually interrupted and unsettled by claims and counter-claims to the origins of mariachi by different segments of Mexican society, and by jokes and parodies of mariachi as stereotypes of Mexican masculinity, ethnicity and class.

Keywords: Identity; Mariachi; Mestizaje; Mexico; Nationalism; Popular Culture

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14608940701406237

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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