Seminar on Tuesday 30 November 2021

Published: 22 November 2021

Ellen Bishell: Cuban Music, Global Screen: Identity Politics, Hypervisibility, and Resistance in Seidy 'La Niña' Carrera’s Tumbao

Seminar on Tuesday 30 November 2021 at 4pm

Ellen Bishell (University of Newcastle)

“Cuban Music, Global Screen: Identity Politics, Hypervisibility, and Resistance in Seidy 'La Niña' Carrera’s Tumbao."


Music from The Americas has historically played an important role in making political statements, cohering community, and exposing structures of inequality linked to (post)colonially informed power hierarchies of race, gender, and sexuality. However, intensified global flows of peoples, images, and capital in a time of digital dominance have reconfigured existing notions of musical protest or dissent. Through the case of Cuban American artist Seidy ‘La Niña’ Carrera’s Tumbao, this paper discusses how identities in music video are rather often compromised to offer certain kinds of precarious resistance. In the ‘audiovisual swirl’, a term used by Carol Vernallis (2013) to denote the prolific, saturated condition of the present mediascape, the hyper-visibilisation of musical identities occurs in tandem with their commodification, exoticisation, and consumption. A hypervisible figure must market themselves in certain ways; any kind of political intervention must be carefully balanced and constantly negotiated. We will see that the tensions between the political and the creative-commercial in this video – and in the contemporary American music industry more broadly – reveals what I call an ‘identity politics of hypervisibility’: one that is inextricably tied to music as a form of resistance in an age of streaming and video-sharing. 

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First published: 22 November 2021