Category Archives: Art, Music, and Movements

Cantos y Consignas: (Re)constructing Spaces of Resistance

By Alessandra Rosa

In my previous post, I briefly commented on the role of art in (re)constructing spaces of resistance during the 2010 – 2011 University of Puerto Rico (UPR) student strikes. In the concluding comments of that post, I exposed some examples of how the student activists strategically and creatively utilized protest art to frame their collective identity, mobilize resources and build solidarity. Similarly, music can also fulfill and broaden these functions in social movements. As Eyerman and Jamison (1998) state, “music, in particular, embodies traditions through the ritual of performance. It can empower, help create collective identity and a sense of movement in an emotional and almost physical way”. For the purpose of this essay dialogue, I have decided to expand on another of the UPR student activists’ strategies of resistance by focusing on their use of music; specifically their cantos y consignas (i.e. protest songs and chants). Continue reading

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Revolution At the Speed of Sound

By Pat Humphries & Sandy O of Emma’s Revolution

We were moving from New York City to the Washington DC area when the events of September 11, 2001 happened. As Pat watched the horrifying news coverage that morning, she started repeating three words in her mind—Peace, Salaam, Shalom—like a mantra. Soon, she was singing them. That Friday night, we sang “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” as we walked in a candlelight vigil through a largely Muslim neighborhood in DC. Two men sitting on a nearby stoop got up and joined the vigil. “We heard you singing ‘salaam’ and ‘shalom’ together. We are Israeli.”

Less than a month later, we went to sing at the first peace march in NYC after 9/11. The theme of the gathering that day was “Our grief is not a cry for war.” As we arrived at the rally, we heard the radio announcement that the Bush Administration had begun the preemptive bombing of Afghanistan. Once on stage, the organizers were preparing to announce the news to the already traumatized crowd and asked us if we had a song that could get everyone singing. We kicked off the march, leading “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” with the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus and percussionist, Robin Burdulis accompanying. 10,000 people sang with us, all the way from Union Square to Times Square. Even amidst the massive news coverage of the bombing, the song was mentioned in The New York Times the next day. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Music, and Movements, Essay Dialogues