Phil's great idea was to blog about the contentious and often antagonistic relationship among the three cities that most impact Cuban-U.S. politics (for better or worse):
La Pequeña Habana (aka, Miami) and
That's the Cuban triangle we know best - but mostly because of current geopolitics and modern migration patterns. However there's another, older, deeper Cuban triangle. Or two...
One is what ethno-musicologists like Ned Sublette call "The Fertile Crescent": Haiti, Cuba, and Louisiana.
The other Cuban Triangle is the subject of a new course that starts today that Ned and I are team-teaching this semester at Baruch College:
Ned and I share a fascination with the history and rich musical culture of each of these cities and an interest in the many connections among them. For those of you who don't know Ned or his work, he is an ethnomusicologist, músico, singer-songwriter, radio and music producer, author/historian, political pundit, Ned's-lister (kind of like a blogger whose posts have a shorter shelf-life but a more narrowly defined audience), all-around roots music guru, and now most importantly a Postmamboist extraorinaire!
In fact, our class could easily be renamed simply, "NED 101," given the fact that it is the formal rolling out of the "Postmamboist method" and due to the fact that three of our six books were written by the man himself (see below for the list and links). You can click here to read the full text of Ned's "Principles of Postmamboism" to see if you too are a Postmamboist. But for a shortened version, keep reading...:
"Postmamboism is a portable theory that places music at the center of understanding and uses music to interrogate other fields of study.Gotta love anyone who can use the word "hyperpolysyllabicism" correctly and sarcastically at the same time.
"The term Postmamboism derives from the Kikongo word imbú, likely used in Cuba from the 16th century on, that is variously translated as "word," "law," "song," or "important matter," and which is pluralized as ma-imbú, or mambo. The prefix "post" is understood to mean not "what replaced," but "what happened after the world was transformed by." Postmamboism says with Arsenio Rodríguez: Abre (open) kuta (ear) güiri (hear) mambo.
"Postmamboism acknowledges a dialectic between its essential reference point of music that is popular (literally, of the people, signifying music that springs from historical roots and, relying on memory and person-to-person transmission, is infinitely renewable), and pop, which is presentist and must be mediated, consumed and replaced. Postmamboism speaks in the vernacular, deprivileging jargon, cultic language, and hyperpolysyllabicism.
"Postmamboism grew out of informal conversations among scholars and practitioners in Havana, New Orleans, New York, and other capitals of the Afro-Atlantic world.
"Postmamboism is activist, in that it seeks not merely to describe the world but to improve it, by applying the corporeal, communitarian, and spiritual power of music to contemporary thought and action. Given the historical role of music as subaltern discourse, Postmamboism also reserves the right to deploy satire and mockery, and more broadly, to celebrate carnival in infinitely varying forms."
And who doesn't want "to celebrate carnival in infinitely varying forms"?
Two fellow travellers on this postmamboist road are surely salsero MisterBryans (whose music blog is here) and scholar Lisandro Perez, whose new book should hit the presses soon, "Cubans in Gotham: Immigrants, Exiles, and Revolution in Nineteenth-Century New York" (New York University Press, Spring 2010).
Here's the list of the books we are using - 3 memoirs, 3 histories, and lots of music and videos in between:
Go here for a radio interview with Ned about Cuban music on The Takeaway.