Dr. Nora Gámez Torres will be a Visiting Scholar at the Cuban Research Institute during the spring semester of 2014. She will work on her book manuscript, Living in Transition: Popular Music and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba, based on her Ph.D. dissertation. The book prospectus is currently under review at Palgrave MacMillan.
This book is the first attempt by a Cuban academic to connect popular music with the most contested social and political issues in the country. The book is an intervention in the debate about the Cuban transition and the future of the Revolution, which favors culture as a significant field of analysis usually missed by economists and political analysts. It uses popular music to map social changes since the 1990s—the so-called "Special Period in Times of Peace"—and discusses emerging capitalist mentalities and class distinctions; racial politics and racialization; changing patterns of gender relations; and the symbolic rearticulation of Cubanness (/cubanidad/) by younger musicians working under transnational and diasporic frameworks.
Dr. Gámez Torres's work also explores the potential of music as a site for politics, in a context where the traditional public sphere is colonized by the State. Drawing from a variety of disciplines—e.g., sociology of culture, political science, and popular music studies—and combining data from extensive fieldwork comprising interviews with popular musicians based in Cuba, ethnographic research, and discourse analysis, it offers a comprehensive study of contemporary Cuban music that includes well-known genres such as hip-hop, pop-rock, and reggaeton.
Dr. Gámez Torres obtained her Ph.D. in Sociology from City University, London. She also holds a Master in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master in Social Communication from the University of Havana, where she also completed her B.A. with honors. She recently published "'Rap Is War': Los Aldeanos and the Politics of Music Subversion in Contemporary Cuba" in /Trans: Revista Transcultural de Música/ (2013). Her article "Hearing the Change: Reggaeton and Emergent Values in Contemporary Cuba" appeared in /Latin American Music Review/ (2012).