Mariachi Music in San Antonio: The Construction of Cultural and Ethnic Identity in a Hybridized City




Salazar, Amador

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The intent of this research is to reveal and understand the symbolic meanings of cultural and ethnic identity that cultural creators and receivers perceive through their involvement in mariachi. This study's shows the way those involved in mariachi perceive their cultural and ethnic identity while living in a city that infuses Mexican and Texan cultural sensibilities. A mixed-method approach was taken between in-depth qualitative interviews and participant observation. Participant observation was utilized as a means to build a stratified snowball sample of the various cultural producers and receivers of mariachi. The cultivation of this sample was guided by Griswold's cultural diamond framework. Reliance on semi-structured in-depth interviews as the primary research method of inquiry illuminated the various horizons of meaning that mariachi performers, instructors, gatekeepers, and aficionados held in regards to their efforts to preserve a long standing cultural musical art form in San Antonio, Texas. Some findings include various stories and perspectives on cultural and ethnic identity in mariachi, varying strategies undertaken to preserve mariachi music in the twenty-first century through technology, its institutionalization into a public-education setting, the varying gender dynamics among mariachi performers, the question of authenticity and hybridization in mariachi music, and cultural politics in the mariachi music scene.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


culture, mariachi, Mexican American, qualitative, San Antonio, Sebastien de la Cruz