Elon hosts Duke professor to speak on Latinx music in North Carolina’s Appalachian area

Sophia Enriquez, assistant professor of music, held a conference on Elon's campus about Latinx musical traditions of migrant farmworkers in North Carolina during the second half of the 20th century.

Elon students, faculty, and staff attended the conference “Listening for Understories: The Musical Roots/Routes of Migrant Farmworkers in North Carolina” by Assistant Professor at Duke University Sophia Enriquez on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

From an ethnomusicological perspective, Enriquez’s talk explored the social and political spheres of the Latinx musical traditions of migrant farmworkers in North Carolina during the second half of the 20th century. The lecture introduced a distinctive perspective on how creative practices are crucial to understanding diverse identities that have shaped the Southern culture of the U.S. Enriquez’s research on the emergence of Latinx music traditions and their consequence in the everyday lives of migrant people offered a unique opportunity to approach Latinx contributions to the Appalachian culture.

Enriquez’s conference explored how the musical activities of farmworkers became a way to tell more complete stories about Latinx people in North Carolina and show their longstanding contributions to local and regional expressive culture. Her background in ethnomusicology and her knowledge of folklore fostered the understanding of diverse identities in the Appalachian region by highlighting the historical and present contributions of the Latinx communities.

Duke Assistant Professor of Music Sophia Enriquez with Elon students.

She focused on ranchera, cumbia and other Latinx musical styles that have played a crucial role in representing the past and present challenges that have been historically faced by immigrants in the U.S., especially in the countryside. Enriquez’s talk demonstrated that creative practices have long been at the center of how farmworker communities form and navigate complex relationships to place.

The event reflected on creativeness and music as crucial practices to explore history and social issues around the history of migration. It fostered critical reflection by asking: What can we learn from understories told through music?

Enriquez’s talk approached that question by referring, among other resources, to archival materials from the Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (SAF). Her research based on the SAF archive also provided a unique approach to materials that are not only a matter of the past but have a meaningful impact in present society.

Indeed, SAF is an organization that has benefited more than 100,000 farmworkers migrants to obtain proper education and health services while allowing students to advocate for social justice and help to improve the condition of the farmworkers. Currently, SAF offers an opportunity for students to conduct summer internships, which combines social and human services with a chance to improve Spanish language skills.

The event enhanced Elon’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by studying the roots of Latinx identity from musical traditions and approaching folkloric lyrics as fundamental practices to tell stories of underrepresented communities. The event also fostered intercultural competence among the Elon community by considering the relevance of the Latinx culture in North Carolina and the Appalachian cultures.

Enriquez’s conference motived a deeper comprehension of the positive consequences of migration phenomena in the region and promoted a proper understanding of multiculturalism as a fundamental aspect of contemporary social relationships.

The event enriched campus life in the 2022 Winter Term and enhanced student’s learning experience at Elon thanks to the support of the Center of Advancement of Teaching & Learning (CATL). The event was also sponsored by the Department of World Languages & Cultures, El Centro and the Latin American Studies minor.