Ethnomusicologist and Senior Lecturer in Music Dr Tenley Martin investigates transnational musical exchange through the lens of British and Spanish flamenco communities in a new book set to be published 21 March, 2020.
As an ethnomusicologist and an immigrant, the concepts surrounding how music cultures travel is one that is fascinating to me, especially as the UK continues to flirt with anti-immigration and division. Researching what was first a Ph.D and now a book allowed me to explore themes of musical journeying and cultural connections through the lens of flamenco – an art complex that has traditionally reached across cultures for inspiration yet remained firmly associated with a particular locale – Andalucía.
The central premise of the book is broadly based on ethnographic explorations across the UK and Spain acquired from 2011-2018, which involved interviews, participant observation, and practice-led performance research. It examines the relationship between local (Spanish) and foreign flamenco culture with the aim of providing insight into how flamenco travels, manifests in its new locale, and reciprocally affects the Spanish scenes.
Flamenco, an art complex with its roots situated in Andalucía (southern Spain), is often assumed by outsiders to be a representative of a coherent national identity. This is a false assumption, both with regards to the realities of the art form and in terms of Spanish identity. Significantly, as early as the nineteenth century, it developed a considerable following outside of Spain’s borders amongst non-Spanish aficionados. This foreign interest has resulted in a commercial flamenco industry across Spain, as well as a vibrant ex-pat community in flamenco hotspots, such as Sevilla.
Research suggested flamenco is transmitted outside of Spain primarily by foreign individuals (whom I refer to as Cosmopolitan Hubs, building on Kiwan and Meinhof’s concepts of network hubs) who possess transcultural capital from Spanish flamenco communities, as well as from their home country. This transcultural capital is utilised to create economic capital in the UK. This book explores the role of Cosmopolitan Hubs in cultural transmission, thus suggesting an alternative approach to music migration and glocalization in a world increasingly less focused on ethnicity or nationality for individual identity formation. Ultimately, it provides insight into how music cultures travel and the formation and propagation of British leisure cultures.