CFP: The Global Reach of the Fandango




The Foundation for Iberian Music at The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center will host a conference on the global reach of the fandango at CUNY’s Segal Theater on April 17, 2015.

In The Mestizo Mind: The Intellectual Dynamics of Colonization and Globalization, Serge Gruzinski notes “the difficulty we experience even ‘seeing’ mestizo phenomena, much less analyzing them.” The fandango emerged in the early eighteenth century as a popular dance and music craze across Spain and the Americas.  While in parts of Latin America the term “fandango” came to refer to any festive social dance event, over the course of that century in both Spain and the Americas a broad family of interrelated fandango music and dance genres evolved that went on to constitute important parts of regional expressive culture.  This fandango family comprised genres as diverse as the Cuban peasant punto, the salon and concert fandangos of Mozart and Scarlatti, and—last but not least—the Andalusian fandango subgenres that became core components of flamenco. The fandango world itself became a conduit for the creative interaction and syncretism of music, dance, and people of diverse Spanish, Afro-Latin, Gitano, and perhaps even Amerindian origin.  As such, the fandango family evolved as a quintessential mestizaje, a mélange of people, imagery, music and dance from America, Europe, and Africa. Emerging from the maelstrom of the Atlantic slave trade with its cataclysmic remaking of the Western world, the fandango in its diverse but often interrelated forms was nurtured in the ports of Cádiz, Veracruz, Sao Paolo and Havana, and went on to proliferate throughout Europe and the Americas. Widely dispersed in terms of geography, class, and cultural reference, the fandango’s many faces reflect a diversity of exchange across what was once the Spanish Empire. This conference proposes to bring these cousins together, and to wonder how one form can shed light on another.

The Foundation invites interested scholars, graduate students, and practitioners including musicians and dancers to propose presentations on all subjects related to the fandango. Although we are not limited to them, we expect to gain special insight into the following topics:

1. What is the full array of the fandango? Can we track the great flows, effusions, migrations, and transformations of culture through a close examination of the local and specific histories of the fandango?

2. What are some of the shared formal features—musical, choreographic, or lyric—that can be discerned in the diverse constituents of the ‘fandango’ family in Spain and the Americas? How does our recognition of these features enhance our understanding of historical connections between these places?

3. How has the fandango participated in the elaboration of various national identities?

4. How may we read, as Terence Cave has described, the performance of mestizaje and the negotiations of hegemonic gender codes in intermediate forms like the minuet afandangado, or a fandango on eggs?

5. What is the genealogy of the fandango’s stringed instruments, instrumental and vocal techniques, rhythm, verse, melodic structures, improvisational syntax?

6. What are the political economies of fandango performances—how do local, cross-class, and transnational economic transactions activate the process of mestizaje?

7. What are the politics of representation of the various fandangos? How, as Elisabeth Le Guin, Antonio García de León Griego, and Roger Bartra observe, do the fandangos of the Enlightenment shed light on musical populism and folkloric nationalism as armaments in the great emancipatory struggles of the 18th and 19th centuries?

8. How do fandango music and dance embody memory? How do they collapse past and present, creating performances that simultaneously echo the magical or sacred practices of their ancestors and appeal to a commercial audience?

9. What does the resurgence in interest in the fandango in Chicano communities across the U.S. as well as in Mexico have to do with the process of decolonialization?

Paper presentations will be 20 minutes, with 10 minutes of discussion. We also welcome workshop-style presentations incorporating dance, music, and song. Please send a title and a 150-200 word abstract to K. Meira Goldberg at by Nov 1, 2014. There is a conference registration fee of $100.