Raquel Z. Rivera
The Mary Ann and John D. Mangels Fund
February 28, 2013 | 6:30 p.m.
Kane Hall, Room 120
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Liberation Mythologies: Quests for Roots, Spirit and Justice in Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Dominican and Mexica Music and Dance
"Liberation mythologies" is Raquel's working term to explore the intersections between artistic practice, spiritual belief and grassroots activism. Taking my cue from cultural historian Robin D.G.Kelley, I focus on the "dreams of freedom" at the root of myth-making. And taking another cue from mythologists Joseph Campbell and Robert Segal as well as religious historian Karen Armstrong, I look at myths not as stories or beliefs that are (necessarily) untrue but as tropes that poetically attempt to explain or get us closer to the unexplainable, and most importantly, as tropes that give individuals and communities the strength to keep crafting and pursuing their dreams of freedom. Though my ideas about liberation mythologies can be applied to various spiritual traditions, my work as a scholar and artist focuses on two communities of practice: an extended community of New Yorkers who specialize in Afro-Puerto Rican bomba and Afro-Dominican palos and gagá roots music; and a New Mexico-based community of concheros and danza mexica (Mexica or Aztec dance) practitioners. I am particularly interested in exploring these practices as neo-ancestral traditions whose participants are invested in "recuperating" the past in order to build toward a better future.
About Raquel Z. Rivera
Raquel Z. Rivera is co-editor of the anthology Reggaeton (2009) and author of New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone (2003). Her academic articles on popular music and culture have been published in various books and journals. A freelance journalist, her articles have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, among these: Vibe, One World, Urban Latino, El Diario/La Prensa, Hoy, The San Juan Star, El Nuevo Día, Claridad and Diálogo. She blogs about her creative process at Cascabel de Cobre and about reggaeton and hip-hop at www.reggaetonica.blogspot.com.
She has a Ph.D. in Sociology and is Affiliated Scholar of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, New York City. Her areas of scholarly interest are popular music and culture, race and ethnicity, nation and diaspora, and the intersections between Latino and Africana studies. She has taught courses in Sociology, Anthropology, Africana and Latino Studies at Columbia University, Hunter College and Tufts University. A sought-after lecturer and panelist, she has done numerous presentations at colleges, conferences, schools and community-based organizations throughout the United States, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Her essays, short stories and poetry have been featured in journals, newspapers and literary websites, including Letras Salvajes, En la Orilla, Hostos Review/Revista Hostosiana, El Nuevo Día, Claridad, Siempre, El Fémur de Tu Padre and The Latino Artists Roundtable webpage. She is working on her first novel entitled Beba and collaborating with artist Tanya Torres on a multi-media project dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
A singer-songwriter, her debut CD is titled Las 7 salves de La Magdalena/7 Songs of Praise for the Magdalene. The album debuted on March 2011 at #16 on the Top 20 World Music Charts Europe. She is a founding and current member of bomba group Alma Moyo. She is also a founding and former member of Boricua roots music group Yerbabuena and also of Yaya, an all-women's musical collective dedicated to Dominican salves and Puerto Rican bomba. She has performed with Grammy-nominated Los Pleneros de la 21 and internationally renowned Dominican roots/fusion artists Xiomara Fortuna and Luis Dias, jíbaro music music legends Nito Méndez and Alfonso Vélez, and New York City-based Caribbean roots music groups Pa' lo Monte, Palo Mayor, Kalunga, Los Instantáneos de la Plena and Los Bomberos de Brooklyn. She has performed at SOBs, Satalla Temple of World Music, Lincoln Center's La Casita Festival, Nuyorican Poets Café, Hostos Community College, Yale University and the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., among numerous other venues.
She is a board member of Latino Studies journal and Los Pleneros de la 21. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she commutes between New York City and Albuquerque.
- UW Graduate School
- UW Alumni Association
- School of Music
- Walter Chapin Simpson Center for Humanities
- Department of American Ethnic Studies