Kings of Bachata : Aventura, Migration and Dominican Nationalism in a Transnational Context
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Since the 1960’s, Dominican bachata music has been associated with the poorest, blackest sectors of Dominican society. Recently, however, young Dominican music groups in New York City, most famously Aventura, have popularized the genre and made it a symbol of Dominican national pride. While the change in attitudes towards bachata music might initially suggest a move away from classist and racist nationalist ideologies, this paper argues that Aventura’s bachata articulates traditional racist ideas of Dominican nationalism that have circulated since the founding of the nation in the 19th century and reveal the nation’s colonial legacy. In particular, articulations of machismo and modernity in the music echo longstanding white supremacist ideals, which emphasize Spanish heritage and attempt to disguise or deny African traditions. The analysis draws on interviews with young adults in the Dominican Republic concerning Dominican music and migration, lyrics from popular Aventura songs, and Internet discussion posts about Aventura’s music.