Neoliberalism and Reggaeton

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at post pomo nuyorican homo

reggaetoncuba

Reuters recently published a pieced entitled “Reggaeton fever shakes up Cuba’s culture” the article cites an now infamous (in reggaeton circles anyway) quote by Juventud Rebelde that calls reggaeton a “reflection of ‘neoliberal thinking’.”

I think the development and growth of reggaeton in Cuba has been fascinating (if you are interested check out Geoff Baker’s work) and illuminates much about the ways in which different musical forms/genres circulate as cultural and ideological commodities.

The idea of reggaeton being a product of neoliberalism is intriguing. Clearly the flows of neoliberal capital and its circuits facilitated the spread of technologies and people that enabled the different permutations of reggaeton within the   Caribbean, the Americas, and globally.

More than anything else, I wonder what seeing reggaeton as a neoliberal commidity says about how Cuban authorities think about the neocolonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and the forces of diaspora (not only between Puerto Rico and the U.S., but broadly speaking) in forging reggaeton, essentially outside of the Cuban nation (and well any nation really). Reggaeton is largely positioned as outside of the Cuban nation, seen as an import from the yanquis via Puerto Rico, which is why Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto is quoted in the Reuters piece as saying that reggaeton needs to be “pushed away.” Reggaeton is agringado, a corrupting influence on Cuba’s revolutionary ideals.

While reggaeton is (often mis)understood as a Puerto Rican, or even an American phenomenon, the more authorities and cultural brokers attempt to place reggaeton within some kind of national frame the more obvious it becomes that reggaeton exist in between and outside of national boundaries.

Maybe that is what makes reggaeton so threatening, what incites all these national panics? Well, besides sex and race, but of course those things are tied up within the nation too…

Now I’m just ranting though….thoughts?