TALK: Reclaiming and Reimagining Tex-Mex Border Musics through Legacy, Place and Cultural Heritage, Cathy Ragland (Ethnomusicology, University of North Texas)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Event Location: 

  • McCune Conference
  • Center
  • 6020 HSSB

Event Contact: 

Dr. Ruth Hellier-Tinoco,

Date: Wednesday 16 November 2016, 3.30-4.30 PM

Location: McCune Conference, Center, 6020 HSSB

The Rio Grande Valley of Texas, bordering Mexico, is the birthplace of modern Texas-Mexican music. However, migration away from the relatively impoverished and isolated region since the mid-twentieth century greatly diminished a once vibrant local border music scene and independent recording industry.

This talk examines current efforts of activists, cultural brokers and city planners in the town of San Benito in reconstructing narratives of musical heritage and cultural memory.  Their objective is to “reclaim” the border in narratives of Texas-Mexican music history by way of a cultural arts center, music festivals, museums and public monuments that evoke place and recast history and the imaginary.

The legacy of two of the city’s “native sons” – Narciso Martínez, the “father of conjunto music” who died poor and nearly forgotten; and Freddy Fender (aka Baldemar Huerta), who anglicized his name and became a Grammy-winning country-rock musician – have been memorialized in two opposing positions to border music history in a context of globalization and hypermediacy. 

Bio: Dr. Cathy Ragland is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, with research interests including music and migration/immigration, culture and politics in the borderlands, music and nationalism, gender studies and applied ethnomusicology. She is author of Música Norteña: Mexican Migrants Creating a Nation Between Nations (Temple, 2009), former music critic for the Seattle Times, San Antonio Express-News and Austin American Statesman and folklorist/program director of several cultural arts organizations.

Co-sponsored by: the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Academic Policy; Program of Latin American & Iberian Studies; Department of Global Studies; Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies; and Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music (CISM).

Further details: Dr. Ruth Hellier-Tinoco,