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"Ethnic" Los Angeles

Comparative Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality

Anne Cong-Huyen, Thania Lucero, Joyce Park, Constance Cheeks, Charlie Kim, Sophia Cole, Julio Damian Rodriguez, Andrea Mora, Jazz Kiang, Samantha Tran, Katie Nak, Authors
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What is the Definition of Mariachi?

When asked what mariachi is, most non-Hispanic people seem puzzled to try and explain it. Even those who are of Hispanic and Latino heritage cannot come up with a true definition of mariachi. As a pre-study for this question, Andrea asked 10 random students of different heritages around the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles to see what type of definitions they came up with (the names of the students remain anonymous). At times a person specifically related it to all Hispanic culture. Others say they are street performers who sing in Spanish with big sombrero hats and go "Ahaaaaay!".

Before delving deeper into what is perceived as mariachi today, let us present the Oxford English Dictionary definition of mariachi.

  • Denoting a type of traditional Mexican folk music, typically performed by a small group of strolling musicians dressed in native costume.

The photo above is an example of a typical mariachi group performing in the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico. This seems like a good representation of what the definition above is stating. But does this definition still hold true to mariachi's living here in Los Angeles? Does this once Hispanic profession still uphold the intentions of mariachi from the early 19th century? And how has living in Los Angeles affected the interaction between mariachi and different ethnic backgrounds?

Follow us on our journey and see for yourself.
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