Research seminars

Andrew Green | Rapping the unknown: Mexican hip-hop, silencing, and the post-authoritarian imagination

Event details

Speaker: Andrew Green (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Glasgow)

Date: 30 October 2019

Time: 3.15 - 5.00pm.  

Venue: Alison House, Atrium (G10)


Mexican hip-hop is characterized by extreme imaginaries of unfreedom. Onstage, hip-hop artists defy narrated threats to expressive freedom from the state, political parties, business, and the Church, using the musical depiction of threat as part of a finely balanced act of boundary work. Based on ethnographic research in the Mexican hip-hop scene since 2012, this paper explores how these performances respond to a post-authoritarian context, defined both by defective democratic processes and the spectre of the country’s pre-2000 authoritarian past. Reiterating narratives of silencing serves to deconstruct the teleology of democratization in Mexico and highlight its failings, while enacting expressive freedoms in response helps to maintain sight of liberal-democracy-as-utopia. We may best understand such performances, I suggest, in relation to these artists’ typically perplexing and uncertain everyday encounters with the state, and with electoral democracy as a locus of the uncertain and unknowable. Creatively drawing upon the work of political scientist William Riker and anthropologist Michael Herzfeld, I argue that such experiences underline the ongoing need to narrate experiences of marginalization, repression and silencing, and a broader impulse to respond to crises of meaning within Mexican multiparty democracy.


Dr Andrew Green is an ethnomusicologist and popular music scholar whose research focuses on music scenes in Mexico. His work examines music, politics and activism, musical labour, and the impact of cultural and extra-cultural policy on music scenes. He was awarded a PhD in Ethnomusicology from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2016, and he has published work in Ethnomusicology Forum, Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, and The International Journal of Cultural Policy.


Oct 30 2019 -

Andrew Green | Rapping the unknown: Mexican hip-hop, silencing, and the post-authoritarian imagination

Andrew Green explores how Mexican hip-hop reflects the challenges facing a relatively new democracy.

Alison House
12 Nicolson Square