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'People take for granted that you know how to dance Salsa and Merengue': transnational diasporas, visual discourses and racialized knowledge in Sweden's contemporary Latin music boom

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In recent years US-based Latin culture has gained worldwide popularity through artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Ricky Martin. Taking the national context as an emerging vantage point from which to consider globalization processes, this article explores the growing popularity of 'Latin music' as a specific contemporary expression of global popular culture and its impact on young Latina women's everyday lives and identity work in Sweden. Based on interviews and focus group discussions with 29 high school young Latina women between 14-20 years of age, born and/or brought up in Sweden, the article examines how musical arenas and their appeal to hybrid identities are construed in contemporary articulations of commodity cultures and representations. In the particular context of Sweden, the article looks at how young Latina women negotiate popular representations of latinidad through an intentional and unintentional embodiment of these images. It is argued that while visual discourses and representations of popular culture tend to fix young women in preconceived ideas of ethnicity, race and gender, the young women themselves find a myriad of ways of reconstructing stereotyping ideas and creating diasporic links with other Latino/a diasporas, especially in the United States.
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Keywords: Sweden; diaspora; globalization; latinidad; popular culture; racialized knowledge; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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