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Visiting Scholar Offers Expertise in Chicano MusicEstevan C├ęsar Azcona Comes to Center for Mexican American Studies

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December 8, 2008-Houston-
Music and songs from picket lines and protest marches provide rich fodder for music research.   Estevan César Azcona, the newest Visiting Scholar for the University of Houston Center for Mexican American Studies, investigates the motivation, inspiration and relationships reflected in song.

“My research is the music of Chicanos, that is, ethnic Mexicans on this side of the border, predominantly those who were born here,” Azcona said.  “I study the juncture of ethnomusicology and Chicano studies.”

The CMAS Visiting Scholars program began in 1986 with goals of generating research about the Mexican American community and attracting scholars interested in tenure-track positions. Visiting Scholars are in residence for one year, researching in the fall semester and teaching in the spring. 

“The Visiting Scholars program is doing what we wanted it to do, and that’s increase the pool of Latino scholars and the research they are pursuing,” said CMAS director and professor Tatcho Mindiola. 

Azcona hails from the steel mills in Indiana and the beaches of southern California, where he became indoctrinated in Chicano music of the southwest.  His area of study focuses on the music of the Chicano movement during the 1960s and ‘70s.  He tells the story of musicians from that historical period and how their political struggle and strides were reflected musically through artists such as Armando Hernandez and Miguel Vasquez, both farm workers, and Francisco Gonzalez, who played traditional Mexican music on the harp and was the founder of band, Los Lobos.  Azcona says their stories take on added relevance today.  

“Chicano music offers us a glimpse into the futures that America itself is going to encounter, those that delve into the crossing of borders,” he said. 

Azcona also compiled, annotated and produced a compilation disc of songs titled, Rolas de Aztlan:  Songs of the Chicano Movement in 2005 that includes many of the artists he studies.  In spring 2009, he will teach a class titled Music in Mexican America.

To date, the CMAS Visiting Scholars program has recruited experts in the fields of history, art, sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science and English.  Its scholars have generated such research as:  Latino Violence on the Border:  The Case of Houston 1985 -2000; Mexican American Women in Houston:  Work, Family and Community 1900- 1940; Brown, Not White:  School Integration and Chicano Movement in Houston; and Urban Speak: Poetry of the City.  A mural at Austin High School titled, Bajo del Sol Tejano, was a project conceived and implemented by an artist recruited through the Visiting Scholars program. 

For more information on the UH Center for Mexican American Studies program, visit www.class.uh.edu/CMAS/.

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