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Diana Buendía

Diana Buendía is from Guayaquil, Ecuador and lives, works and writes in Los Angeles. She moved to the U.S. to get her undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a graduate degree in arts journalism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Through her work she studies the hegemonic tensions between the U.S. and Latin America and the way related narratives refract back through media.

"Diana Buendía, My Blood, My Eyes: Ibeyi Within the Politics of Afro Cubanidad & Transcultural Spectatorship"
Across U.S.-based music media, Naomi and Lisa Diaz of duo Ibeyi are often identified as daughters (of the late Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz, an Afro Cuban All Stars and Buena Vista Social Club associate) and, most emphatically, as Afro-Cuban (by way of Paris, where they were raised). Their music is often times praised — “To hear the music of Ibeyi,” writes one journalist, “is to hear the spirits of enslaved people stolen from Africa and brought to the Caribbean over the middle passage, filtered through the lens of Spanish colonialism and French Enlightenment [...] Rarely has that history sounded so beautiful.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that description that would help us understand what it means to construct the well-connected, XL Recordings-signed, French-Cuban duo as exemplary performers of contemporary Cuban, femme-driven music grounded in Yoruba. In order to do so, this presentation would bring the music of Ibeyi and the mediated construction of their identity in conversation with the work of Afrocentric thinkers M. Jacqui Alexander and Jafari S. Allen. Allen helps us by unpacking what it means to center Afro-Cuba as the cultural base of Cuban society and reminding us to view the label as something “living, laden with the messiness of subjectivity, affect and material conditions.” Alexander can allow us to parse through just what it means for Ibeyi to center feminist spiritual practices in their music.

This presentation will also keep in mind processes of transculturation via record labels like XL Recordings and the cultural capital that comes with being the daughters of a Buena Vista Social Club musician. This, as performance studies scholar Diana Taylor reminds us in The Archive and the Repertoire, will help us develop a more nuanced understanding of transcultural spectatorship and its part in larger economic and ideological networks.