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Research Summary

Research Projects


Elite Art Worlds book cover

Elite Art Worlds: Philanthropy, Latin Americanism, and Avant-Garde Music

(Buy it here)

Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1962–1971)

Starting in 1962, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Di Tella Institute financed the creation of the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (CLAEM) in Buenos Aires, a graduate center for studies in Western art music composition under the direction of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. During the next decade, a total of fifty-four fellowship holders from thirteen different countries studied at CLAEM with world-renowned composers, created regional professional networks, and familiarized themselves with contemporary compositional techniques and works. CLAEM gave the possibility to study with an inimitable group of visiting teachers including Aaron Copland, Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Luigi Nono, Riccardo Malipiero, Luigi Dallapiccola, Earle Brown, Larry Austin and Vladimir Ussachevsky. By the time of its closing in 1971, CLAEM had become an epicenter for avant-garde art music in Latin America.

The book Elite Art Worlds demonstrates how diverse international models of musical avant-gardism and philanthropy of the arts were followed, consumed, and rearticulated, and then became embodied, resignified, and institutionalized among elites in Latin America during the 1960s. The book addresses three key questions. First, how was the avant-garde articulated in Latin America, and in which ways did it respond or not to theories of avant-garde movements and modernity in the rest of the world? Second, how were composers during the 1960s engaging with discourses of Latin Americanism as professional strategy, identification marker, and musical style? Third, what is the role of art in the legitimation and construction of elite status and identity?


Soccer fans during match day

Soccer Chants and the Public Articulation of Heteronormativity

Participatory Sounding-In-Synchrony in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This project studies chanting in Argentine soccer stadiums and performances of masculinity. Most scholarship on soccer chants has paid attention to textual elements as evidence of discourses about gender already in place or given value and meaning to the chants because of the genealogy of the popular music songs that they are based on. My ethnographic research with core fan groups suggests that these chants become meaningful beyond text and genealogy.

Herrera’s research proposes that ethnomusicology can significantly contribute to the study of chants by exploring the specific potentials that participatory moving and sounding-in-synchrony bring into social experience. He argues that public mass participatory singing allows fans to actively partake in a performative social space that establishes a non-hegemonic shared system of meaning around masculinity. This system, centered on the notion of aguante (endurance or stamina), frames locally rooted interpretations of heteronormative, patriarchal, homophobic, and sometimes violent values and actions in a positive manner. Chanting in massive numbers allows for the public utterance of expressions, slurs, and profanity that most people might refrain to use individually. Much more profound than simple delivery of lyrics, sharing a specific repertoire that includes an embodied practice in movement, stamina, and vocal strain becomes the basis for powerful, shared but yet intimate social connections.



Book cover Experimentalisms in Practice

Experimentalisms in Practice: Music Perspectives from Latin America (Buy it here)

A collaboration among Herrera, Alejandro Madrid and Ana Alonso-Minutti to bring together a series of original essays from scholars in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, literary studies, cultural studies, critical theory, women and gender studies, ethnic studies, performance studies, and composition to analyze how experimental practices in Latin America and among Latin@s in the U.S. challenge mainstream discourses about experimentalism. The adoption of a plural “experimentalisms,” points at a purposeful decentering of its usual U.S. and Eurocentric interpretative frameworks. The case studies in this volume contribute to this by challenging discourses about Latin@s and Latin Americans that have historically marginalized them. As such, the notion of “experimentalisms” works as a grouping, as a performative operation of sound, soundings, music, and musicking that gives social, and historical meaning to the networks it temporarily conforms and situates.

This volume advocates for the importance of locating a variety of experimental practices both temporally and geographically, thus avoiding generic classifications and asynchronous understandings. These associations with musical memories, with pasts, presents, and imaginary futures, invite alternative modes of listening that subvert expectations and challenge any given configuration of experimentalism as a fixed ontology. Thus, this focus on performativity as a central aspect in understanding experimentalisms connects a broad variety of musical practices and histories, from sanctioned avant-garde forms of musical expression to various types of unconventional popular music, and even to peculiar sound practices developed beyond the walls of normative musical institutions.

We take a broad approach to a wide variety of Latin American musical traditions including free improvisation in Argentina, experimentation in Cuban and Chilean canción protesta, Cuban experimental film music, fringe areas between classical music and rock improvisation in Colombia, improvisation and public performance in Mexico, and experimental practices in diasporic Brazilian electronic dance music.

The edited volume is the result of an interdisciplinary symposium Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey on September 24-25, 2015. We invited contributors to explore a number of relevant issues in relation to experimental music in Latin America that somehow challenged mainstream notions about experimentalism.


Coriún Aharonián

Coriún Aharonián

Montevideo, Uruguay,(1940–2017)

During the last fifty years, Coriún Aharonián has become one of the most important local and regional figures in contemporary classical music. His influence as a composer, thinker, writer, thinker, and cultural agitator has shaped significan portions of Latin America’s contemporary music scene. Herrera’s work on Aharonián looks at his musical and musicological production, and explains the tenacious manner in which his compositions incorporate aspects of politics, ethics and ideology.


Wilfred C.Bain and Juan Orrego-Salas

Indiana University’s Latin American Music Center and the Rockefeller Foundation

In the beginning of the 1960s the Rockefeller Foundation gave two significant grants towards the study of Latin American music. Sponsored by John P. Harrison, Assistant Director for Humanities, their aim was to help the creation of institutions that would provide a sustaining environment in which cultural work may flourish. One grant went to the now legendary Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (CLAEM) at the Torcuato Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The second grant was given to Indiana University, Bloomington, to establish the Latin American Music Center (LAMC) for the study and performance of Latin American music under the direction of Juan Orrego-Salas.

Complementing Herrera’s work on CLAEM, this project illuminates the relationships between foreign policy, corporate interests, and funding for the arts in the mid-twentieth century, and brings to the foreground the part played by individuals acting within the web-like domain of philanthropy in the U.S. and Latin America.