Psychedelic Cumbia: From the Amazon to the World

Organised by the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project at Royal Holloway, in association with the Institute of Latin American Studies and the Latin American Music Seminar.

In recent years, psychedelic or Amazonian cumbia has powerfully caught the attention and imagination of global trendsetters – from dance clubs and local bands in New York and London to the latest Pedro Almodóvar film. In this brief talk, Maya scholar Genner Llanes-Ortiz revisits its humble origins in the Peruvian Amazon and explores its relationship with Indigeneity and modernization. The history of this cumbia sub-genre aptly illustrates the ways in which people from multiple locations contribute to the formation of ‘global cultures’. At the end of the talk, there will be a live performance of Amazonian and other types of cumbia by Juan Carlos Arenas’ band, Los Musicos.

This event is part of the free exhibition, EcoCentrix: Indigenous Arts, Sustainable Acts, running at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1 9PH, from 25 October to 10 November 2013. The exhibition, which has an interactive component, presents unique installations of digital media, live performance, sound art, film and performance artifacts from indigenous cultures around the world.

Speakers/ Contributors/Performers

Genner Llanes-Ortiz is a Maya anthropologist from the Yucátan who writes about different forms of indigenous knowledge. His post-doctoral research for the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project investigates the ways in which ritual and performance are used in the political mobilization of Mayan heritage for greater social justice and recognition. He studies the strategies and influences that render these performances meaningful and appealing to different audiences, and how they are re-appropriated and/or contested by competing social actors. Genner also keeps a multi-lingual blog on Mayan voices and interculturality at Tsikbalo’ob means ‘conversation’.

Los Musicos is a London-based acoustic trio specializing in a wide repertoire of Latin American ‘tropical’ music, including Colombian cumbia and various beats from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina.

The interdisciplinary research project, Indigeneity in the Contemporary World: Performance, Politics, Belonging, is a five-year initiative led by Professor Helen Gilbert at Royal Holloway, University of London and funded by the European Research Council.

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Main image credit: Carlos Díaz