Lectures, Music Demonstrations and Workshop Facilitation

Dr. Martha Gonzalez presents the first CSP Lecture of the 2016-17 academic year on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 in Thorne Hall. Martha Gonzalez was born and raised in East Los Angeles and is a Chicana artivista (artist/activist) and feminist music theorist. Gonzalez earned a PhD in Feminism from the University of Washington Seattle. In addition, Gonzalez holds an undergraduate degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of California Los Angeles. Her academic interest in music has been fueled by her own musicianship as a singer and percussionist for East L.A’s Quetzal for the last 17 years. Quetzal’s album Imaginaries received a Grammy award in 2013. Dr. Gonzalez is currently an Assistant Professor at Scripps College in the Claremont Colleges’ Intercollegiate Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies Department. (Photo by Marc Campos, Occidental College Photographer)

Dr. Martha Gonzalez presents the first CSP Lecture of the 2016-17 academic year on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 in Thorne Hall.
(Photo by Marc Campos, Occidental College Photographer)

Lectures, Music demonstrations and workshop facilitation

Below are short abstracts describing the various multimedia talks and presentations I have developed over the years. All are based on my community, music, embodied knowledge and public scholarship. Most of the work has been published in various books and journals in the US, Mexico and Germany.

“Chican@ artivistas at the Intersection of Imagination and Hope”

Chican@ artivistas (artist/activists) in Eastside Los Angeles neighborhoods utilize art and creative expression to de-construct power, challenge multiple patriarchal systems, and build community. From renewed hope imaginaries erupt as Chican@ artivistas channel the power and practice of music, art, and theatre, as tools of convivencia (deliberate convening). In dialogue with translocal Mexican communities, Chican@ artivistas have developed techniques to harness artistic and creative power to transform and rebuild various sectors of their communities such as: food sovereignty, money recycling, community land trusts, self-sustained community services, and artistic/mentorship networks. In doing so, artivistas create new physical, spiritual, and ideological spaces. This multi-media lecture draws directly from Chican@ Artivista: Music, Community and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles demonstrating the roots that give way to artivista identity and the pedagogies that have developed as a result.


“Fandango sin Fronteras: The Sonic Transmigration of Social Movement”

This presentation explores the community of efforts that I refer to as “fandango sin fronteras” (fandango without borders) or the translocal U.S./Mexican fandango community. As an active participant and through an engagement of the literature of performance studies, transculturation and critical indigenous pedagogy, I will demonstrate the many liberatory veins in the enactment of fandango jarocho in Mexico and the U.S. and how this practice has been used as an organizing tool by Chican@ artivista communities in Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington, as well as in other spaces by Mexican@/Chican@, Latin@ communities in the United States. I suggest that a central aesthetic principle in fandango is the enactment of convivencia. I will recount how fandango practice succeeded in redefining music conception, not only for myself as an active participant but also for an ever growing number of practitioners in the U.S. and Mexico. Fandango practice intrinsically articulates the importance of convivencia in the music making process independent of the sociality of capital. In addition, I suggest that fandango praxis and the community it inherently builds generates discussions among practitioners that enables a critical consciousness. For all of these reasons, I suggest that fandango as a social tool has become the language utilized across borders between Chican@ artivista music communities and musicians in the U.S. as well as fandango practitioners in Mexico. In this way the sounds of the son jarocho, particularly the relationships and fandango protocols that give rise to the music and poetry of the practice, enables a sonic transmigration-to and fro-that builds a moral, political and musical economy that must be regarded as social movement.


“Mixing” in the Kitchen: Entre Mujeres (Among Women) Translocal Music Dialogues

         Entre Mujeres: Translocal[i] Feminine Composition was formally initiated in Veracruz, Mexico from fall of 2007 to Summer of 2008. As an active practitioner in a translocal, community based, participatory music, and dance practice known as fandango, I was inspired by the vast participation of women and children in this practice. Women’s presence is seen and felt in every aspect of fandango-from the son jarocho music, dance, and poetry that give currency to the practice, to the organizational aspects of the event- such as food preparation, and guest accommodations. As a professional musician from the U.S., motherhood was an interruption yet important catalyst towards a redefinition of music in my life. Keeping in mind the important role that women play in fandango practice, initiating the Entre Mujeres project became a way for me to stay connected to music amid my new role as a mother, but also a way to dialogue with other active musician mothers in Veracruz, Mexico. Through the development of the collective songwriting process the Entre Mujeres project became both a dialectic tool and an archive. Musician mothers engaging in the collective songwriting process not only managed to produce multiple music compositions for the Entre Mujeres project, but most importantly, generated physical, spiritual, and ideological space from which mothers were able to theorize, and imagine new realities for themselves and their families.

I demonstrate how low-cost portable recording equipment expedited the translocal music dialogues between U.S. based Chicana musician mothers in Los Angeles and musician mothers in Veracruz, Mexico. In this way, musician mothers engaging in the composition and recording of music in the kitchen, and or other home spaces, highlights how professional recording facilities are patriarchal by the nature of the spaces, techniques, and timelines. Entre Mujeres project fostered music engagement that actively took musician mothers and their multiple responsibilities into consideration. Finally, Entre Mujeres project produced a musical archive that reflects women’s experience and worldviews. The songs as “texts,” or what I describe here as “sung theories,” are accessible archives that can communicate embodied knowledge across time, disciplines, borders, generations, and other ways of knowing.


Sonic (Trans)Migration and Rhythmic Intention in Zapateado Jarocho

My talk and demonstration will be shaped by my musical practices, both as (1) a Chicana vocalist, percussionist and composer in the Chicano rock band Quetzal, and (2) a participant in the transnational music movement Fandango sin Fronteras (Fandango Without Borders). By interrogating the sonic aspect of movement, particularly the footwork of zapateado Jarocho (Afro Mexican music), as it is utilized in the music of  Chicano rock band Quetzal, I attempt to recount the many historical voices and dialogues that resonate in the striking of feet on wood. My analysis is based on embodied knowledge generated through my shared musical practices in varying communities rather than an objective formal analysis. In doing so, I am attempting to build the language on what the late grate ethnomusicologist Katherine J. Hagedorn might call, “the ecstatic convergence of body and sound.” I suggest that rhythms processed by the body are not just marking time in music and dance practice, but rather ancestral rhythms are political acts rooted in resistance. By interrogating the sonic aspects of movement, particularly the footwork of zapateado Jarocho in the context of Chicano music, particularly through the music of Quetzal, I seek to reorient our minds in how we perceive both dance and music. Through embodied knowledge via performance practice I recount the many historical voices and dialogues that resonate in the striking of feet on wood. Conceiving dance rhythms as a sonic archive, one can gain valuable insight and additional narratives within a culture’s historical hybrid trajectory and particularly its African Roots. Ultimately I suggest that rhythms processed by the body are not just marking time in music and dance practice, but rather I believe and more importantly have felt that rhythms are political acts, rooted in resistance.


“Collective Songwriting: Testimonio, Theory and Knowledge Production”

A song as a sonic and literary manifestation is life’s soundscape, a unique, cathartic memento as well as a powerful political tool. A song can also be an important historical text. A person’s testimonio (testimony), life views, triumphs, aphorisms, and struggles can be expressed in song lyrics. In this way, song lyrics can transmit ways of knowing and theorizing about life. It can also be viewed as alternative ways of creating knowledge. When practiced in community, songwriting can be a powerful exercise in consensus building and collective knowledge production.  This talk explores the collective songwriting process as it is utilized by Chican@ Artivistas (artist/activists) in East L.A. towards different ends. I share the history and development of the method, the different stages of the process and the significance it has had in Chicano Latino communities in East LA.

A Collective Songwriting workshop will follow for those who wish to participate. Both the talk and the workshop are open to the public.

“Agonistic Harmony and Transformation”

As a Chicana musician who has mostly produced music for public consumption it is encouraging when audiences contemplate the messages or ideas in our music beyond the listening. For over twenty-one years songs from my band Quetzal have been used as educational tools across grade levels, educational institutions, community organizations and beyond. This talk will explore efforts involving two of our songs; “Estoy Aqui” and “Coyote Hustle.” In both cases the community engaged in what I call “agonistic harmony.” That is to say, the ideas and theory embedded in the songs were debated and explored by community, which, eventually led to critical action. I propose agonistic harmony as a process that describes subjects engaging in apposing discussions as well as the simultaneous weaving of them. Agonistic harmony is by all accounts what we witnessed within the community engagement of the song examples I will discuss in my talk. Importantly “Coyote Hustle” and “Estoy Aqui” lyrics or ideas allowed subjects to dream beyond them in order to decipher a social riddle towards creating new meaning that undoubtedly induced social and ideological transformation, transformation that led to tangible community action.

“Maña Magic: Chicana Feminism in the Home, in the Classroom, at Large, and Behind Bars”

In the tradition of Chicanx feminist scholarly inquiry and our ongoing commitment to the exploration of liberatory knowledge rooted in our Chicanx Latinx home traditions; this essay is a reflection on maña magic as philosophy, discourse and more importantly a life skill. Cited in the Spanish language dictionary as a “feminine noun,” maña is defined  as “dexterity, skill” and/or “cunning and guile.” Through examples of maña as demonstrated by mother in the home amid single mother survival,  I theorize how maña inhabits the brown body initially in its own struggle to survive but also as a verbal utterance and performance that ultimately empowers future generations as it is passed on to the familial or communal collective.


 List of Institutions Visited:

2019    Workshop and Lecture. “Collective Songwriting: Theory and Knowledge Production.” University of California Davis. December 5.

2017    Lecturer. “Artivista Practices” Maria Rosario Jackson Arizona State University (ASU) The Gammage. Phoenix, AZ.

2016    Lecturer. “Chican@ Artivistas: East Los Angeles Trenches, Transborder Tactics.” Gonzaga University. November 16.

2016    Workshop Facilitator. “Collective Songwriting.” Gonzaga University. November 17. Washington.

2016    Lecturer. Graduate Theater course teacher. Arizona State University (ASU) The Gammage. Phoenix, AZ.

2016    Lecturer. Race and Ethnic studies course for Christopher Wells. Arizona State University (ASU). Phoenix AZ.

2016    Panelist. “The Sonic Landscape: Moving Messages” Rancho Los Alamitos. In collaboration with Josh Kun, Oliver Wang, Greg Bryant and Craig Torres. November 6.

2016    Lecture. “Sonic Transmigrations” in Dance in Traditional Cultures Course. Eugene, Oregon. February 25-26.

2016    Lecture. “Collective Songwriting: Theory and Knowledge Production,” for World Music Series and BE Musica. University of Oregon. Eugene, Oregon. February 25-26.

2016    Presenter/Musician. “Sounds of California” for the Annual Folklife Festival. June 26-July 4. Washington D.C.

2016    “Ways of Knowing: Exploring the City of Angels by Re-Membering and Re-Imagining Time, Place and Belonging,” Whittier College, CA. January 22.

2015    Collective Songwriting Workshop presentation for LASPA: Humanities and Leadership Launch for Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

2015    Collective Songwriting Workshop facilitator for Intercollegiate Feminist Center (IFC), Anti-Racist Feminist Retreat. Scripps College. Claremont, CA. February 13.

2015    Invited workshop facilitator for 25th Anniversary Thomas Rivera Conference. University of California Riverside. Riverside, CA. February 20.

2014    Keynote. Annual Student of Color Dinner at Scripps College. Claremont, CA. September 2.

2014    Invited workshop facilitator for 25th Anniversary Thomas Rivera Conference. University of California Riverside. Riverside, CA. February.

2013    Invited workshop facilitator for 25th Anniversary Thomas Rivera Conference. University of California Riverside. Riverside, CA. April 19.

2013    Invited workshop facilitator for “Sound Beyond Barriers” for City Artist Grant, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs for Seattle World School. Feb 25-Mar. 1st.

2013    Speaker. “Chicana Artivistas at the Intersection of Hope and Imagination.” California State University Dominguez Hills. March 5.

2013    Lecturer, Workshop facilitator “Chican@ Artivistas at the Intersection of Hope and Imagination” with Quetzal for the Humanities Institute at Scripps College. Claremont, California. February 13.

2013    Invited Speaker. “Fandango as a De-Colonial Tool” for the School of Unlimited Learning (SOUL) with George Lipsitz. University of California Santa Barbara. Jan 26. Santa Barbara, CA.