Flamenco, Regional Identity and Political Autonomy in Andalusia (Spain)
In my PhD research I combine ethnomusicology with the theoretical perspectives of political geography to explore the relationship between flamenco, and regional identity and political autonomy in the southern-Spanish region of Andalusia. Since Spain’s transition to democracy in 1978 and its decentralisation into seventeen autonomous communities, each region has been encouraged to foreground its culture in order to demonstrate the plurality of the Spanish nation-state. In this way, flamenco (a musical tradition most associated with southern Spain) has been used by the Andalusian government as an emblem of regional culture and identity. This has become increasingly apparent in recent years, particularly with Andalusia’s new statute of autonomy (2007) that recognises the region as a ‘historical nationality’. Flamenco is now written into the statute as ‘a unique element of Andalusian cultural heritage’ (Andalusian Statute of Autonomy, 2007). Furthermore, in November 2010 flamenco was recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, a declaration that will increase its support at the regional (as well as national and international) level.
By drawing upon ethnographic research conducted in Andalusia and through online communities, I explore the ways in which the regional government fosters flamenco as an emblem of cultural heritage and how this is received by some Andalusians. As such, I explore some of the inequalities in and issues with flamenco’s institutionalisation as regional culture. On the one hand, the ‘regionalisation’ of flamenco has meant the obscuration of other regional folk traditions and thus, for some people, it is viewed as an emblem of cultural homogenisation. Here, discourses surrounding music reflect deeper concerns regarding the existence of a single Andalusian region – for some political groups there should be two autonomous regions. On the other hand, the development of flamenco at the regional level has arguably created favouritism towards a handful of artists (most notably those from Seville) at the expense of the majority of flamenco musicians. From my research with musicians and aficionados in Granada (a city in east Andalusia), I examine how such institutional policies are received and contested at the ‘grass-roots’ level. By using flamenco as a vehicle I hope to show the complex relationship between music, politics and ‘geographies of belonging’ such as regionalism.
Supervisor: Dr John Morgan O’Connell
Book Review: 'Music and Marx: Ideas, Practice, Politics', edited by Regula Burckhardt Qureshi, Ethnomusicology, 53/3 (2009), 519-22.
Newsletter: ‘Exploring Spain’, Cardiff University News, 18/1 (October 2011), 11.
2008 – 2011: Associate lecturer (University of Plymouth)
2010 – 2011: Undergraduate and Postgraduate teaching (Cardiff University)
2010 – 2011: Undergraduate dissertation supervision (Cardiff University)
BA: University of Plymouth (first class honours)
MA: Cardiff University (distinction)