Street music, governance and cultural policy in San Cristóbal de Las Casas

Green, A. (2020) Street music, governance and cultural policy in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 26(4), pp. 417-432. (doi: 10.1080/10286632.2019.1567721)

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Abstract

This article takes an ethnographic perspective to explore the changing ways in which the municipal government of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, a city in southern Mexico whose economy is highly dependent on tourism, has regulated street musicians over the last five years. It focuses on permits given to street musicians which served to exert spatial and temporal control over street performance, while giving musicians no substantial rights in practice. Engaging the so-called ‘anarchist turn’ in anthropology, it shows that this policy instrument effectively sidelined non-monetary forms of exchange between musicians and their various publics, and privileged the commercial interests of restaurants and bars. Further, in practice, it pushed some street musicians onto the margins of the city’s economic life, where their performances were often more, rather than less, disruptive. Nonetheless, this situation altered significantly in the wake of social unrest in Summer 2016, which caused a precipitous drop in tourism to the city. The municipal government’s response to the ensuing economic crisis signified a belated recognition of the economic value of street musicianship.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Green, Dr Andrew
Authors: Green, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Journal Name:International Journal of Cultural Policy
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:1028-6632
ISSN (Online):1477-2833
Published Online:21 January 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in International Journal of Cultural Policy 26(4): 417-432
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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