Remixing Reggaetón

The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico

Remixing Reggaetón

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 11 illustrations Published: October 2015

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Latin American Studies, Music > Popular Music

Puerto Rico is often depicted as a "racial democracy" in which a history of race mixture has produced a racially harmonious society. In Remixing Reggaetón, Petra R. Rivera-Rideau shows how reggaetón musicians critique racial democracy's privileging of whiteness and concealment of racism by expressing identities that center blackness and African diasporic belonging. Stars such as Tego Calderón criticize the Puerto Rican mainstream's tendency to praise black culture but neglecting and marginalizing the island's black population, while Ivy Queen, the genre's most visible woman, disrupts the associations between whiteness and respectability that support official discourses of racial democracy. From censorship campaigns on the island that sought to devalue reggaetón, to its subsequent mass marketing to U.S. Latino listeners, Rivera-Rideau traces reggaetón's origins and its transformation from the music of San Juan's slums into a global pop phenomenon. Reggaetón, she demonstrates, provides a language to speak about the black presence in Puerto Rico and a way to build links between the island and the African diaspora.


"Remixing Reggaeton adroitly accomplishes the twin tasks of providing readers with a comprehensive chronological account of reggaeton’s development until the present, while at the same time placing its trajectory within the context of changing race relations and contested racial identities in Puerto Rico and beyond."  — Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"In Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico, Petra R. Rivera-Rideau has created an insightful and engaging work of music scholarship that forms an important contribution to the literature on Caribbean and Latin American music." — Gregory J. Robinson, Music Reference Services Quarterly

"[T]he strength of the book lies in the way it asks us to remix the concept of the African diaspora. By showing the similarities between African American and AfroLatinidad musical and political realities, it demonstrates that the cultural location of the African diaspora is homegrown, international, and replantable." — Jennifer Williams, Race & Class

"Petra R. Rivera-Rideau’s Remixing Reggaetón presents an insightful reading of reggaetón as a discursive cultural practice inextricably linked to the experience of blackness in the African diaspora.... Well written and organized, and convincingly argued, her timely study resonates with and contributes significantly to current academic understandings of music, race, gender, sexuality, and nation, and their intersections within the context of the African diaspora." — Francisco D. Lara, Notes

"Remixing Reggaetón builds on the long-standing tradition of diasporic studies, contributing a refreshing articulation of the nuances of race and its imbrications with class, gender, sexuality, and nation in Puerto Rico’s so-called racial democracy." — Daniel Castro and Jacob Rekedal, Latin American Research Review

"Remixing Reggaetón makes an extensive contribution to the literature on both Puerto Rican and African diaspora studies. . . . The book offers a refreshing take on the potentiality of cultural production to rewrite the narrative of la gran familia puertorriqueña and generate more inclusive notions of Puerto Ricanness. In the end, Rivera-Rideau not only decenters whiteness in her work, but also foregrounds the messiness of Puerto Rican identities." — Julie Torres, Latino Studies

"Remixing Reggaetón is a much-needed contribution to ongoing discussions on race and racism in Puerto Rico." — Anton Kociolek, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

"Petra R. Rivera-Rideau does an outstanding job explaining the contradictory power dynamics behind the representations of blackness in Puerto Rico. In exploring the ways in which racial identities get restructured, reorganized, and even elided through the music industry, Rivera-Rideau provides a significant contribution and a brilliant intervention into studies on race, blackness, and popular music in Puerto Rico."  — Frances R. Aparicio, author of Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto Rican Cultures

"An engaging intersectional exploration of reggaetón in the context of Puerto Rican racial politics, with a focus on how Afro-'diasporic resources' are deployed to counter the insidiousness of racial democracy discourses. Building upon ethnography, musical and performance analysis, and an expansive bibliography focused on racial politics, diasporic blackness, and popular culture, Remixing Reggaetón features a provocative exploration of Puerto Rican blackness(es) and the multiple ways they can be embodied, performed, perceived, and explained."  — Raquel Z. Rivera, coeditor of Reggaetón


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Petra R. Rivera-Rideau is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Virginia Tech.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Iintroduction. Reggaetón Takes Its Place 1

1. Iron Fist against Rap 21

2. The Perils of Perreo 52

3. Loíza 81

4. Fingernails con Feeling 104

5. Enter the Hurbans 130

Conclusion. Reggaetón’s Limits, Possibilities, and Futures 159

Notes 171

Bibliography 199

Index  215
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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