BFE members: Moshe Morad and Hettie Malcomson receive honourable mentions at SEM

 
BFE member Moshe Morad received an honorable mention in the 2015 Alan Merriam Prize for his monograph "Fiesta de Diez Pesos: Music and Gay Identity in Special Period Cuba".
 
Here is the text of the announcement: 
 
An honorable mention for the Merriam prize goes to Moshe Morad’s book, Fiesta de diez pesos: Music and gay identity in Special Period CubaFiesta de diez pesos is a brilliantly rich and vivid ethnography of (male) gay musical spaces and identities in Cuba, exploring underground or conveniently unnoticed worlds and the centrality of music and dance to their existence and operation. It spans an impressive range of contexts: the precarious yet irrepressible world of underground fiestas, dance parties held in changing secret locations; the national ballet, which Morad terms the ‘most obvious discreet gay space in Havana’; Santeria ritual performances, an indigenous arena that embraces space for gay and transgender performance and performers; and the ordinary domestic worlds of music and queer identification. 

 In all these contexts, Morad draws the reader into vibrant experiential accounts of the use of music and dance by gay men that open up interlocking meanings and functions of performance, performativity, gender and sexuality. Working in the period from the 1990s, the book explores the rapid economic, social and cultural changes in Cuba arising in response to the crisis following the loss of support from the Soviet Union. One such development is the opening up of the country to tourism, with the book growing from an initial visit by the author in 1994.

 Fiesta de diez pesos is both a distinguished contribution to the ethnomusicological literature on sexuality, and an outstanding example of ethnographic fieldwork that is warm, human, engaged, unpretentiously reflexive, and strikingly perceptive. It is informative and compelling, and succeeds in analysing its subjects and their musical behaviour in close detail, but without ever othering them. 

 

 

Congratulations to Hettie Malcomson (University of Southampton) whose article ‘Aficionados, Academics, and Danzón Expertise: Exploring Hierarchies in Popular Music Knowledge Production’ (Ethnomusicology, 2014) received a special mention for the Bruno Nettl Prize at the 60th annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology in Austin, Texas. The purpose of the Bruno Nettl Prize is ‘to recognize an outstanding publication contributing to or dealing with the history of the field of ethnomusicology, or with the general character, problems, and methods of ethnomusicology’.

The abstract of the article reads as follows: Amateur scholars, such as aficionados, fans, intellectuals, are rarely valued in the twenty-first-century academy, despite their often-encyclopedic knowledge. In this paper, I focus on Mexican aficionados of the popular Cuban music danzón to explore how these mostly older men manage social contexts where they are often marginalized. Drawing on Bourdieu, I examine how danzón aficionados negotiate their field of expertise by employing overlapping strategies: accumulating myriad “facts” and “truths”, creating the possibility of ignorance in others, and competing for hegemonic masculine capital. I analyse danzón aficionados’ relationships with musicians and dancers, consider power dynamics between these aficionados and academics, and draw on Léon and Romero to discuss relationships between regional and hegemonic scholarship more broadly. I argue that beyond reflexivity and criticism, collective activism is required to reconfigure value systems and symbolic economies, and to fight institutional pressures to reproduce existing power structures.