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Title: 'Fiesta de Diez Pesos' : music as a space for identity, interaction, and escapism, among gay men in Special Period Havana
Author: Morad, Moshe
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the relationship between music and gay identity in Havana during the 'período especial', an extended period of economic depression starting in the early 1990s, characterised by a collapse of revolutionary values and social norms, and a way of life conducted by improvised solutions for survival, including hustling and sex-work. A thriving, though constantly harassed and destabilised, clandestine gay "scene" has developed in Havana. During eight different visits between 1995 and 2007, I became absorbed in the scene, created a wide social network, attended numerous secret gatherings - from clandestine parties to religious rituals - observed patterns of behaviour and communication, and the way the scene changed and evolved. I discovered the role of music in it as a marker of identity, a source of queer codifications and identifications, a medium of interaction, an outlet for emotion and a way to escape from a reality of scarcity, oppression and despair. I argue that music plays a central role in providing the physical, emotional, and conceptual spaces which constitute this scene and in the formation of a new hybrid "gay identity" in Special- Period Havana. My methodology is based on gathering evidence in situ as a primary fieldwork tool, and drawing on local discourse both as a major source of information and as an important analytical tool. Anecdotal accounts are supported, tested, and verified through short surveys and many personal communications. Recent publications about Cuban music in the Special Period discuss gender and sexuality, but hardly deal with homosexuality, whilst researches on homosexuality in Cuba hardly mention music. This thesis fills this gap and features an analysis of five musical "spaces" in Cuba from a "queer ethnomusicology" perspective. Furthermore, understanding the role of music in providing space for expression and identity-creation to a marginalised and stigmatised group, can offer pointers for deciphering similar processes in other societies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral