Academic Commons


Chávez, Alex E. 2017. Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

Banerjee-Datta, Nandini Rupa

Alex Chávez’s bold and engaging study of huapango arribeño in the everyday lives of Mexican migrants fills a void in anthropological and ethnomusicological scholarship. Based on his 2010 dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin, Sounds of Crossing is an anthropologically based study of how lived politics informs performance in the poetic genre of huapango arribeño, an understudied musical form that originated in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí. Chávez argues that huapango arribeño is crucial in meeting everyday needs for intimacy, place, and belonging—“beyond culture, beyond illegality, and irrespective of geography; through it postnational subjectivities are fashioned and necessary, aquí (here), not allá (out there)” (54). His book includes colorful photographs from the everyday lives of performers and poignant transcriptions of conversations and songs, as well as musical notation—all of which add to his ethnography’s depth and multiplicity, reaffirming his argument that his book is not so much the study of huapango arribeño as an object but as “an analytical lens into the contemporary experiences of Mexican migrants” (34).

Geographic Areas


Also Published In

Current Musicology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Published Here
November 13, 2019