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1 WOMEN IN MURGA: POWER AND IDENTITY IN A URUGUAYAN CARNIVAL ART By ANA LAURA SZGI A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR TH E DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Ana Laura Szgi
3 To my mother and father, t hank you for your ki ndness, humor, support and love
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my committee Dr. Efran Barradas, Dr. Anita Anantharam and my chair, Dr. Ieva Jusinoyte whose guidance, input and encouragement were instrumental to my work. I extend my appreciation to the Boonstra Family Endowment, who provided me a grant to carry out my field research in Uruguay in 2012 an d to the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida for the opportunities it has granted me to complete this thesis. I also thank the many professors who mentored me along the way, lending their time and care. I appreciate the many peo ple who contributed to my study as informants, participants and collaborators, who generously shared their time and effort to tell their story or share helpful information. I thank the many men and women who were courageous enough to step outside of bounda ries and challenge norms with their words and actions to consider a more equitable world. I thank Teresa Chves, Marta Spilak, Marcel Szgi, Ariel Szgi, Talia Bjel and Anglica Aldecoa who were essential as guides, hosts and encouragers during my stay in Montevideo. I thank my family and friends, especially my parents, whose advice, love and support were indispensable throughout the process of producing this thesis and without which, I would not have met a successful end.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS p age ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 THE ELEMENTS AND HISTORY OF MURGA ................................ ....................... 11 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 11 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 12 What is Murga ? ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 16 An Art by and for the People: Social Significance ................................ ................... 17 Ele ments of Murga ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 20 Musical Components ................................ ................................ ........................ 21 Costume and Make up ................................ ................................ ..................... 24 Group Names ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 26 Sections of a Murga Performance ................................ ................................ .... 26 A Brief History ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 28 Murga During the Dictatorship ................................ ................................ .......... 31 ................................ ................................ ...................... 36 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 39 2 MURGA AND ITS ROLE IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE ................................ .............. 46 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 46 Murga as a Source of Expression and Collectivity ................................ .................. 48 Tablados and Neighborhoods ................................ ................................ ................. 51 Influence of Politics, the Media, Economics & Professionalization ......................... 56 Influence of Theater and Soccer ................................ ................................ ............. 63 Murga Joven ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 69 Social and Commercial Interdependences ................................ ............................. 70 3 THE INCORPORATI ON OF WOMEN INTO MURGA ................................ ............. 75 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 75 ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 75 Carnival around the Turn of the XX Century ................................ ........................... 78 Women and Socio political Power Structures ................................ ......................... 80 ................................ ................................ ....... 83 Masking and Costumes ................................ ................................ .......................... 86 Hyper regulation and Artistic Tradition ................................ ................................ .... 89 Murga ................................ ................ 92
6 Recog nition of Women and Decision Making Power ................................ ............ 100 Murga ................................ ......................... 105 4 .................... 111 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 111 Feminism (Mis)understood ................................ ................................ ................... 112 The Advocacy of Humor and Music ................................ ................................ ...... 116 Results and Conclusions ................................ ................................ ...................... 119 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 12 8 Advantages and Considerations for Future Studies ................................ .............. 131 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 136 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 141
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 Members of Cero Bola rehe arsing at Club La Espada ................................ ....... 40 1 2 Members of Cero Bola rehearsing at Club La Espada ................................ ...... 40 1 3 Percussion Instruments. ................................ ................................ .................... 41 1 4 Women Directing. ................................ ................................ ............................. 41 1 5 Make up ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 42 1 6 Costumes ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 42 1 7 La Gran Mueca pictured in costume, 2013. Photo by Gustavo Gurlikin. ....... 43 1 8 Logos of several murgas ................................ ................................ .................. 43 1 9 Teatro de Veran ................................ ................................ ................................ 44 1 10 A photograph of La Gaditana que se va from the Museum of Carnival ............. 44 1 11 Women in carnival at the turn of the 20 th century ................................ .............. 45 1 12 Ladies pictured in costume ................................ ................................ ................ 45 2 1 A modern day tablado bein g set up ................................ ................................ ... 73 2 2 Tablados from February 23, 1928. Shown in Mundo Uruguayo. ....................... 73 2 3 Figurines of a murga at Museo del Carnaval ................................ .................... 74 2 4 Examples of make up artistry ................................ ................................ ............ 74 2 5 Costumes and headgear displayed at the Museo del Carnaval A) A murga costumes. B) Headpieces made from foam. ............... 74 3 1 Advertisements for Perfume Launchers from Mundo Uruguayo ...................... 109 3 2 ................................ ......................... 110 3 3 ................................ ................................ ............. 110 4 1 Cero Bola ................................ ................ 134 4 2 Cero Bola in a street parade. ................................ ................................ ........... 134
8 4 3 La Bolilla que Faltaba in 2012. ................................ ................................ ........ 135 4 4 Cabezudos (Big Heads), a standard character seen in street parades. .......... 135
9 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the R equirements for the Degree of Master of Arts WOMEN IN MURGA: POWER AND IDENTITY IN A URUGUAYAN CARNIVAL ART By Ana Szogi May 2012 Chair: Ieva Jusionyte Major: Latin American Studies Can women form a murga ? This was debated in the media during the 2012 carnival season in Uruguay as women gained a new space in the folk performance art, murga Known as the most popular carnival art in Uruguay, and of the murga has been nearly exclusively a male space Only in the last fift een to twenty five years have women slowly been incorporated, this shift culminated by the presentation of the first all female murga in the official carnival competition of 2012. This investigation, based on interviews and ethnographic research, aims to u nderstand why women have been excluded, how changes towards inclusion have come about and how this art is a potential tool of empowerment to make gains in gender equity. Murga is a popular performance art that satirizes and entertains t hrough a polyphonic choir, sings, dances and parodies events of the previous year. Over a century old, murga is th e largest performance category which sells more tickets than an entire season of soccer and basketball combined. For the better part of the 20 th century, murga was a form of entertainment for working class men, especially paperboys. The characteristic nasal sound of murga draws from the tactics of traditional street vendors who project and preserve their voice with a specific timbre. Closely tied to spheres of
10 po wer such as politics, media and business, murga allows performers to express opinions and expose taboos on a national stage, providing women a renewed, but contested ground for expression and agency. As a marker of national and collective identity, murga i s a significant cultural icon that parallels soccer and theater in many ways, but differs in its capacity for direct social criticism before a large public, elements which are especially important for marginalized groups. Government led initiatives are par tly responsible for the growing inclusion of women. While progressive changes have been made, there is much room for further incorporation of women into this genre a nd related spaces of power
11 CHAPTER 1 THE ELEMENTS AND HISTORY OF MURGA Introduction I ar rived at Club La Espada for a Cero Bola rehearsal It was winter, so they met inside, just twice a week, not yet up to the increased practices that are as much as five or six times as carnival draws closer. Although murga groups are known for letting the p ublic attend rehearsals, I was one of maybe five or eight other people there to watch it being too early in the process to have crowds and too cold for neighbors to come out The Cl ub has a pool table and a small bar; the concrete walls are brightly paint ed mismatched colors. The group first meets in the front room, while people order drinks, smoke, shoot pool, gossip and joke as the women trickle in. Attendance is mandatory but the start time is somewhat in question. At arou nd nine thirty, they decide it is time. Through a hallway, the next room over is larger and has a fireplace and an assortment of seats: a bench, a few chairs, a reclining sunbathing chair, etc. These are arranged like a horseshoe around the fireplace. The drummers do not yet have to com e to every rehearsal, just the choir meets, for now. I try to stay out of the way and sit at a far end, but then realize seating is based on choral parts and move to a chair outside of the arrangement. The highest voices sit in the center, the lowest, to t he left and those in between, more to the right. The director sits or stands in the middle and cues the chords with a guitar, singing each note before g iving the downbeat to cue ( Figure 1 1, Figure 1 2 ). The environment is a mix of focus and attention to detail and friendly joking They take occasional breaks and pass drinks from the bar and snacks around. Interjections of jokes, feedback and input are part of the creative process, in part, because this is a
12 cooperative murga Some members come and go from year to year, but at the foundation is a group of friends who share in their expenses and gains (monetary or otherwise) and form a small community. In the midst of the cold weather, the hassles of transportation and the late nights, I think about their co mmitment, how murgas 1 give so much of their time and energy for most of the year, week after week, and when carnival season rolls around, survive exhausting performance schedules. There is hardly a break, especially for those who write and direct and plan for the following year immediately as carnival ends, if not during carnival itself. Perhaps led by a passion for the art, a love of people and desire to be on stage, at its core, murga is about belonging to a shared project, a larger scheme that transcends norms and says something about everyday lives. It is a validation and reflection of the self that then forms part of the collective imaginary. Entrancing and captivating, interviewees sometimes expressed an inexplicable, intoxicating love for murga and ca rnival, as is commonly read and heard in lyrics, because at its essence, murga questions the human condition, the human experience and functions at many levels to nourish the human spirit. Sometimes described as a catharsis, carnival is a privileged opport unity of temporary transformation in which the unspoken is spoken and the unseen is seen. Methodology My observations come from field research conducted in June July 2012 which consisted of attending murga rehear sals and interviewing individuals i n Montev ideo, Uruguay over a seven week period Research was entirely carried out in Montevideo 1 This includes membe rs and the endless list of people who have supportive roles, paid and unpaid.
13 largest carnival performances, parades and competitions are held, including th e official, professional competition (CIA World Factbook). I had three preliminary contacts and also began e mailing individuals I could interview, prior to field research. I used a snowball sampling technique to gain additional interviews once I did carr y them out. I interviewed a total of twenty three individuals, eleven men and twelve women, using semi structured and unstructured interviews, who spanned across a variety of roles in carnival: writers, performers, musicians, instructors, jurors, fans and researchers, using qualitative, ethnographic methods. Upon completing the interviews, these were transcribed and analyzed using grounded theory. Grounded theory is a method which was developed by B arney Glaser and Anselm Strauss and is used by social scie ntists to fo rmulate a theory based not on one that is preconceived, but on inductive research, allowing a theory to emerge from the data (Strauss & Corbin 1998: 9). As data are collected, the researcher looks for patterns, relatable concepts or reoccurring themes that are then analyzed using coding and memo writing by labeling these bits of information (Charmaz 2006: 11). During the process, ideas are drawn and modified to adjust to findings, as opposed to more conventional methods which test a theory. Th e culminates I looked for emerging themes such as power relations, discrimination, identity, cooperation and community sources of conflict, machismo and expression, among others. I visited the Museum of Carnival, where I was able to gain written sources and photograph their exhibitions. I attended six rehearsals of Cero Bola where I observed,
14 took notes and interacted w ith members. I also attended two winter shows by Diablos Verdes and Araca la Cana two older murgas These are commemorative shows that not in outdoor settings, as i s the case during carnival. Winter shows are an added opportunity for revenue and are often those murgas which were more successful the previous year and/or have a longer history. I also requested murga lyrics from AGADU 2 (General Association of Uruguay Au thors), an organization which oversees the copyright of written material. I drew from some of these lyrics as well as others found in published books. I looked at recent headlines in online newspapers and blogs as well as images and articles from the early part of the twentieth century in a weekly publication called Mundo Uruguayo. I also watched videos of murgas online on youtube to learn about themes and recent groups. The vignette from the introduction is from my first visit to a Cero Bola rehearsal th e first all female group to have entered the official contest of carnival performance arts in 2012. Murgas have existed for over a century, but it is in recent history that women have emerged as performers in this popular, carnival art. My intention was to learn length of murgas or the genre as a whole I wanted to learn what opportunities murga performance brought for women as a form of expression. What did it mean to break a social pattern? What were the challenges and rewards? Moreover, I wanted to know about obstacles women 2 Asociaci n General de Autores del Uruguay
15 fa ced and if the possibility of voicing taboo and controversial topics empowered women? I predicted that community building and identity construction would be empowering elements or possible positive results for women participating in a murga. I was interest ed in the subject matter of carnival itself because of its philosophy as one that inverts no rms and challenges social rules, perhaps helpful qualities in granting a place or voice to those who do not have either, tasks which murga claims to take on. Ca rnival is a celebration that occurs in many parts of the world in a variety of forms and practices often syncretized with local beliefs and traditions Linked to the Catholi c Church, it is observed through indulgences excesses and a purging of desires be fore the start of lent traditionally, through the eating of meat and celebrations such as masquerades and parades. Origins of related practices can be traced as far back as five thousand years amongst the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans and Babylonians (Sterzi 2010: 112 113). The name itself, c arne, vale! (2010: 114). Ash Wednesday marks the start of lent, a forty day period of piety and self denial before Easter. Th a utopic time, of openi ng up, of renovation ... it promotes a radical fragmentation of reality and sends one to a verti ginous inversion of the world 3 (Alfaro 1991 a : 21). It is not uncommon for men to dress as women or people to wear masks and extravagant costumes that disguis e, to temporarily step outside the everyday realm and dabble in the absurd, grotesque and playful. Carnival inverts social norms and classes and allows for protagonist roles among the lower classes. Valeria Sterzi describes carnival as, a festive expressi on that deforms, deconstructs, reinterprets the world ... [with ] a weakening of its one sided ... rationality ... Carnival is the 3 tiempo de utopa, de apertura, de renovacin .. promueve una fragmentacin radical de la realidad y remite a esa vertiginosa inversin del mundo
16 language of the market place crowd, the folk language, the one dialectically contra posed to the official monologue; it uses a set of symbols which may have much in common with a grosser, absurd, topsy turvy popular imagery that Bakhti n calls the grotesque realism: ... to liberate fr om the prevailing point of view ... from conventions and established truths, from clich s, from all that is humdrum and universally accepted (2010: 116). Though no longer strongly linked to its Catholic origin in Uruguay, the practice of carnival has been extended to the full forty day period of lent, making it the longest official carnival in the world (Sans 2008: 33; Lamolle 2005:10; Kirschstein 2007: 20). Some describe it more as a music and theater festival or street theater due to having many stage acts and parades (Sans 2008: 31; Kirschstein 2007: 13). What is Murga ? Murga can be described as a music and theater based art that involves song, choreography, dialogue, costumes, face paint, scenery and directed movements. However, given that murga embodies the spirit of the popular masses, and for over a hundred years served as a consi stent venue for society to vent its frustrations along with swirls of humor and satire, the passion that propels murga inspires descriptions of a poetic or romantic nature such as what is found in the official regulation definition : [ murga ] transmits the song of the neighborhood, collects the poetry of the street, sings the thoughts of the asphalt. It is an expressive form, which goes beyond popular language, with the flav or of rebellion and romanticism ... [and is the] essence of national feeling, ... a true caricature of society ... and of contradictions i n what people see, hear and say ... (DAECPU, Kirschstein translation 4 ). It is an art which is a direct creation and expression of the people that speaks to the heart of social perspectives, ills and desires. It attempts to capture audiences through its wit and charm and resonate with the public by expressing common opinions, 4 transmite la cancin del barrio, recoge la poesa de la calle, canta los pensamientos del asfalto. Es una forma expresiva que trasunta el lenguaje popular, con la veta de rebelda y romanticismo. La Murga, esencia del sentir ciudadano, conforma una verdadera auto caricatura de la sociedad, por donde desfilan identificados y reconocidos, los acontecimientos salientes de la misma, lo q ue la gente ve, oye y dice
17 problems, controversies, events and memories. Working class people first organized and perpetuated its existence and prolife ration around the beginning of the 20 th century. class, age and race, it is in recent history that more women have joined and formed murga s 5 An Art by and for the People: Social Significance Despite the cultural wealth that murga, and carnival in general, encompass (musical and artistic production, popular participation, collective interpretation of reality, identity construction, historic import ance ) the subject has not re ceived as much academic att ention as one might expect or is deserved (Alfaro 1991 a : 13; Remedi 2004: xii; Sans 2004: 18, 27, 36). This genre maintained its position as a national tradition, even during the dictatorship era (1973 1985), and gained renewed p opularity as indicated by growing numbers of murgas participation. However, murga was not always valued as a cultural icon and was, considered to have cultural worth by ... Martnez de Len points to the evolution of murga murga was not rooted among the people ... they sounded bad and were made up of people ... of low class ... with time, the murga improved its purpose, lyrics, diction a nd choral capacity 6 161). Most murguistas 7 of the early 20 th century were amateur singers, 5 The term murga can refer to a group, the music or the genre as a whole and I will employ this term with its various uses 6 Las murgas no eran desde el prin cipio un conjunto arraigado entre la gente ... sonaban mal y estaban integradas por gente considera da de muy baja condicin social ... con el tiempo mejor [su] propuesta, letra, diccin y capacidad coral 7 Murga singers, or members of a murga.
18 blue collar male workers who came together for entertainment in the after hours (Dube 2000: 70). Alluding to the troublemaking reputation of murgas a 1937 article from the weekly, Mundo U ruguayo, comparsas (parading drum groups) and murgas did not go far without being taken to the police station 8 Milita Alfaro points out that there were clandestine business activity of questionable moral value that surrounded murguistas in its early stages it had connections to pimps, the old murg uistas exploited women, connected to prostitution and such, 9 2012). Today, the involvement of professional musicians, the refinement of the art form itself and an improvement in sound equipm ent has led to a more polished, evolved sound, but dubious past remains in its background. Once (and still, by some) seen as a vulgar, trivial and distasteful activity because of its association with lower class working men, murga has come a long w ay to be upheld as a national symbol and has incorporated new sectors of society. Many informants said that the climate has become more family friendly, though corruption and illegal business exist in some places because there are large sums of money invol ved in the production of carnival. Gustavo Remedi speaks of a sense of renewal in more recent years and points murga, once ignored, deprecated, or deemed irrelevant and residual, has become a space for expression, representation, and critiq ue of social experiences, with 8 9 en sus primeras etapas tuvo vinculaciones con los proxenetas, los murguistas viejos explotaban a las mujeres, vinculados con la prostitucin y dems
19 Identidad y globalizacin en el carnava l 10 mentions the inclusion of the popular classes, between performers and audience (S ans 2004: 34). She also states that ninety percent of television shows are imported in Uruguay and that the local film industry is limited, so few people have an opportunity to express their points of view. Murga not only satisfies this need, but also grants more license to choose subject matter and have less censors hip (Sans 2004: 237). The dictatorship era fomented interest in murga as it was one of few resources for at once was viewed by the class, mass entertainment acquired unprecedented appeal among an eclectic audience that saw in the murgas a ... way to express their discomfort with the d furthered the purpose and interest in a previously marginalized art and changed its composition to include university students, intellectuals and reach more of the middle class. Guillermo Lamolle, a murga director and lyricist explains in his second pub lication on carnival, Cual retazo de los suelos 11 that murgas often affiliate with a neighborhood and a local social/sports club or restaurant/bar where practices are held. Surrounding communities provide support as a fan base, possibly help with costume o r scenery production, give feedback and contribute financially (2009: 43; Jorge 1998: 114; Sans 2008: 245 246). Along with these many unofficial and uncounted contributors, there are thousands of people involved with carnival indirectly as vendors, 10 Identity and Globalization in Carnival 11 is often associated with the sky and is implied to be woven from, or part of the sky. It uses the very mechanism of borrowing and replacing melodies, rhythms or lyrics that murga does.
20 organiz ers, logisticians, etc. (Lamolle 2009: 43 45). popularity may partly be attributed to the subjects it deals with as it represents what is new, deals with social, political economic topics or events, sports, fashion, the quotidian (Sans 2004:34) an d abstract matters such as democracy, justice, love, solidarity, fear, friendship, etc. Not only do murgas attempt to address a broad range of common topics, but also aim to incite a variety of emotions: surprise, humor, sadness, shock, pride, etc. Over t ime, a specific standard of elements was established. The anthropologist Paulo de Carvalho Neto was among the earliest to publish a description of murga in 1967. Many authors from a variety of disciplines (journalism, history, music, humanities and cultura l studies, etc.) as well as practicing artists and carnavaleros 12 have since chr onicled and explained the many facets of murga, as well as some of its philosophical, political and social implications. Elements of Murga The word murga can refer to many vari ations of performance styles. The word itself is believed to be a derivation of msica according to the dictionary of the Real Academia Espaola (Sans 2004:33; Lamolle 2005:12) and is said to have been in use in Uruguay since around 1880 (de Len 2009: 44) There are murga styles which are particular to Argentina, Panam, Chile and other Latin American countries, all of which have Iberian influence ( Iberian origin to be further elaborated o n in the following section about historical accounts) (de Len 2009: 44). Murga as practiced in Uruguay has distinct characteristics and is recognized as such in other places where murga uruguaya is exported. Murga is the most popular, having the largest number of groups, of five 12 A general term that refers to carnival goers, performers, artists, f ans, etc.
21 official carnival performance arts in Urugu ay which are : humoristas, groups of twelve to seventeen comedians, parodistas, groups of fifteen to twenty artists who parody a story, play, book or movie through singing, acting and dancing, revistas, groups of eighteen to twenty eight people who dance t comparsas or sociedad de lubolos groups which can have forty or fifty to up to two hundred members who perform candombe, afro Uruguayan drumming which itself carries a long history and has a spe cific set of roles and characters (Kirschstein 2007: 16; Sans 2008: 15; Lopetegui & Lannert 1994: 2; Lamolle 2005: 10 11; Remedi 2004: xiii). Musical Components Murgas typically consist of a choir of thirteen members, three percussionists who play a bombo (bass drum), redoblante (snare drum) and platillo (cymbals) (Figure 1 3) and a director, who often accompanies songs with an acoustic guitar (Kirschstein 2007: 13) ( Figure 1 4 ) Instruments were originally rudimentary and were lids of pots and pans and o ther odds and ends (Carvalho Neto 1967: 49). It was not unti l around 1918 that the percussive element was established as a norm (Rodrguez 2004: 17). The use of percussion instruments came abo ut to draw attention when a famous director, Jos Minis teri, employed a soldier who was a drummer in 1915 (Diverso 1989: 25). Other instruments have sometimes been included in the past and present (i.e. cornets, keyboard, ele ctric guitar), but are outside of tradition and are not required. Percussion, however, is essential and has two characteristic rhythms, the marcha camin a march like rhythm, and the candombeado which comes from afro uruguayan candombe (Kirschstein 2007: 13). Drummers do not follow written parts, but rather attend rehearsals and hear the choral parts and then play alongside, improvising and
22 experimenting until they have created and memorized their parts by listening. Gustavo Diverso adds that Brazilian, and Central American rhythms have also been incorporated into the murga sound, as well as other music genres such as rock and jazz (1989: 26). The reverse has also happened, in which murga elements have been used in mainstream popular music such as, rock pop, folk, etc. Murgas borrow melodies of well known songs and replace lyrics to expre ss and comment on themes or social issues (Lamolle 2005: 97; Lopetegui & Lannert 1994: 3; Diverso 1989: 24). These reworded songs do not take on new titles. Songs are known by the year and the section of the show and the name of the group. For example, one of the most famous murgas la retirada 13 Asaltantes con Patente (Lopetegui 1994:3). Lamolle defends that although murgas largely do not write their own music, the borrowing of melodies is nonetheless rich in its layers of humor, irony and mu ltiple meanings. He continues that music, in general, borrows from various styles, as with connections between rock, blues, folk, etc. and in effect, there is little music that is truly 99). The lyricist, who crafts the words for said recycled melodies, holds the challenge of synthesizing satire, playful, but not (too) offensive lyrics, irony, grace and humor into a poetic construction that will speak to the people (de Len 2009: 142 show, the lyricist ( letrista ) often begins writing for the following carnival as one carnival ends. Murgas may sometimes have several letristas and then select the material they most like. In the same way, letristas often write for more than one murga and may receive supplemental income. 13 This is the last section of a show, explained on page 28.
23 The director is another individual who plays an important role musically as the one who sets the pitch, as a choral arranger, as an emcee and a literal director of sorts (Figure 1 4 ). The director is not exclusively apart from the group when on stage, he or she may sometimes join a singing part, have a short solo or add to a joke. However, eatly and each director has his or her own developed character. On stage, the director is a caricature that is not implicitly needed, but acts as a figurehead and added entertainment. Some exaggerate movements and may dance elegantly or humorously (Lamolle 2009: 102). Ney Peraza mentioned one director, who did not actually d irect, but just dressed idea being that the murga knew its parts and the director was an added character that livened up the show (interview, June 18, 2012). Kirschstein describes the movement s of stays crouche d with his back to the audience ... traverses the front of the stage with elaborate footwork, leaps and spins, physical expressions which (2007:14). Directors may hold any number of other responsibilities administrative or otherwise, and are often seen as a paternalistic key figure and personality with which a murga is associated. The choral sound of the murga voices (Lopetegui 1994: 3), to project the voice, ( especially during past times with poor acoustic conditions ) and has become a trademark sound (Diverso 1989: 27; Sans 2008: 215). Since murguistas were originally in large part newspaper workers, it is tho ught that the style of singing derives from the 44; Rodrguez 2004: 21; Diverso 1989: 27). The choir itself consists of three parts
24 primos, segundos y bajos, sobreprimo s and sometimes a tercia of which each has two subdivisions (Lamolle 2005:69 71; Diverso 1989: 27). Poor diction and sound quality were previously turn off points for spectators. The increased complexity of chords and arrangements over time has aided in im proving the sound and popularity of murga which is now more developed, aesthetically pleasing, better amplified and easier to understand. Costume and Make up Murguistas are known for elaborate costumes and make up which are yet another aspect of their ar tistic representations and are in line with the theme of their show. Originally, costumes were based on modifying formal suits by, for example, putting large buttons on a tailcoat, using bright colors, wearing a wig or straw hats with brims cut into points (Rodrguez 2004:15) reaping a somewhat clown like effect. In original costumes which have since brought everything from aliens gypsies, Scots, cooks, hippies, to owls, v ikings, soldiers, robots, etc. to the stage (Diverso 1989: 28 29). early history of murga as a figure who wears a suit with a tailcoat and top hat, but these are embellis hed with glitter, colors and other variations. and originality, but are also a sign of status as costumes are costly constructions (Figu re 1 6, 1 7 ) Artists and fashion designers are nearly essential for a success, which makes for a n un level playing field for those murgas who lack funds. costumes represent power and carnival is, among its many facets, a
25 game of power 14 He explains that costu mes can be a tipping factor towards winning or losing and certainly something that spectators and critics comment upon. etimes contain wire frames or foam to hold their shape (Lamolle 2005: 83 84). These are potentially cumbersome, heavy and hot to wear during the summer season of carnival. If possible, murgas have costume changes through the various parts of their show, wh ich increases cost, but also brings a wowing visual effect. Make up artistry, another element which is judged, is the final touch that completes the impressive appearance of a murguista and has also changed over time (Figure 1 5 ). What remains still is that the process begins with a white base on the face and neck. Carvalho Neto writes that on top of this white base, there were images such as boats, landscapes, fruits, flags, animals or insects that were unrelated to the costume or to the lyrics and theme of the show (1967: 51 52). Jos Luis Rodrguez, through an interview with Jos Dorta, a make up artist, explains that the reason for some of the earlier paintings being unrelated objects is because commercial painters painted what they knew from thei r repertoire for business (2004: 62). This eventually changed, especially with an artist named Rosario Vignoli who began making a connection between costume and make up. Latex and applications to change factions also came into use (2004: 63). Professional artists are usually only used for those shows that are on the national stage, as it is costly and time consuming. For the many shows performed in the neighborhood tablados murguistas do their own make up. 14 el vestuario representa poder, y el carnaval es, en alguna de sus mltiples facetas, un juego de poderes
26 Group Names Murga groups often have humorous or witty names that may be based on popular expressions colloquialisms or have come about from inside jokes such as, Araca la Cana (Watch Out for the Police), Falta y Resto (named after a move in a card game) or Metele que son Pasteles (similar to the expres taken on names with a feminine slant like in the case of Cero Bola, the all female group or not pay ing mind to or giving someone the time of day), La Bolilla que Faltaba (The Ball that was Missing), Las Fulanas y Menganas Siempre Libre (Always Free, named after a tampon brand ) (Lopetegui & Lannert 1994: 5). So me names are based on cultural markers or aspects of carnival, for example La Milonga Nacional (The National Milonga, which is a folkoric song and dance) or Momolandia (The Land of Momo 15 ). Others have more straight forward, classic names such as, La Leyend a, (The Legend), La Margarita (The Daisy), La Soada (The Dreamed of). Many murgas have their own logos, recorded albums and some become professional which leads to other opportunities such as leading workshops or working in other related areas like comedy and theater commercials or collaborating w ith leading musical groups ( Figure 1 8 ) Sections of a Murga Performance Those murgas who qualify for the official competition and final round, la liguilla, held in the Teatro de Verano an outdoor theater, have performances that last forty to 15 T he symbolic king of carnival He is crowned at the beginning of the sea son, and buried in the end, a character which originates from Greek mythology cohort ... the god of gentility ... 2004: 111).
27 forty five minutes (Figure 1 9) Outside of these performances, murgas do not often present their full show. A majority of the show is comprised of singing, though mimic, movement and skits are also incorporated. Complete sh ows consist of four distinct sections (Carvalho Neto 1967: 52 53; Kirschstein 2007:14 15). The saludo or intro duccin is an introduction and greeting to the audience and to carnival. A presenter or the director often preface s the opening song with a clever perhaps rhyming and excitement filled spoken introduction. The salpicn or popurr, is a song which provides an overview of current events of the past year with satirical commentary. This section alternates between soloists and the general choir and ques tions social values to then propose absurd or exaggerated solutions (Diverso 1989: 50). The cupl is the most theatre like section as it devises chara cters and employs dialogue. S kit s may contain a famous person, object or abstract concept (i.e. a politici Th e individual who p ortrays said character is known as the cupletero though this is a tradition that is slowly disappearing This character, who is portrayed in a n exaggerated way through gesture, throughout the narrative as a voice of morality and critical commentary. The character is eventually kicked out, offended (Kirschstein 2007: 14). While this traditional character has been loved and coveted as a starring role, many newer murgas do not have a cupletero because they do a collective cupl in which everyone is a part of the skit and joke telling. This shift is one that people who enjoy more traditional murga do not prefer. The concluding section, the retirada or despedida is a bittersweet parting song that
28 promises to return next year and en ds with a repetitive refrain called the bajada during which performers trace through the audience. By then many people know the words to the bajada, if not the whole show, and perhaps join in singing. Shows often begin and end with a c larinada an acapell a solo (Kirschstein 2007:14 15). The retirada is often a moving ballad like portion that is a final show of vocal talent and is emotionally evocative. A Brief History L iterature on Uruguayan murga widely states that its origins are from Cdiz, Spain and began around the turn of the 20 th century (Carvalho Neto 1967: 46; de Len 2009: 23 27; Lamolle 2005: 12; Lamolle & Lomardo 1998; Sans 2008: 16; Lopetegui & Lannert 1994: 3; Rodrguez 2004: 20). It is speculated that a travelling zarzuela 16 group called La Gaditana ( The One from Cdiz 17 ) came to visit Montevideo in 1909. This style, a precursor to murga dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries (de Len, 2009:23 4). Short on funds, the group, a quintet of musicians (Lamolle & Lombardo: 1998), took to the st reets to perform and collect money to travel home (Lopetegui & Lannert 1994: 3), or perhaps to raise enough money for their boarding. Some say that this group renamed itself (recall the wittiness and joking nature of group names) as La Gad i tana que se va (The One from Cdiz who is L eaving) (Lopetegui & Lannert 1994: 3), while others sustain that the popularity of the original group inspired the formation of imitations of said group, out of which arose La Gaditana que se va (Carvalho Neto 1967: 47). Accordi ng to Rodrguez, the visiting group came in 16 A n artistic genre involving spoken and sung scenes, orchestral accompaniment and dancing from Cdiz, Spain 17
29 1906 and the first Uruguayan murga was in the following year and was called Los Amantes al Engrudo (Paste Lovers) (2004: 20). However, de Len, who also cites Lamolle and Lombardo and says that La Gaditana que se va formed in 1909 and that it was by 1910 that murga groups were forming. He also quotes a famous director, Jos La Gaditana que se va came about in 1906 (Figure 1 10 ) Many agree that the first group to originally for m in Uruguay was perhaps La Hispano Uruguaya in 1910 and that it was in this year that murga spread as a genre (de Len 2009: 33). Despite much debate about dates, groups and events, there is a general consensus that murga has a mixed origin from Europe ( gaining influence s from Spain, Italy and France), but also from African and Cuban rhythms and that this mixture came about in Uruguay as a result of im itating visiting groups and because of European immigration (Fornaro 2002: 3; Lamolle 2005: 12 13; de Le n 2009: 25). These early imitations were very different from what is performed today as groups were smaller, the instruments were not the same, carnival was shorter, celebrated differently and many of the norms and standards established by the modern day r egulating body, DAECPU, ( Ch.2 for further explanation) were not yet in place. Mil ita Alfaro is a central reference o f the history of carnival in Uruguay. Cited by many authors, her two part historical account, Carnaval:Una historia social de Montevideo d esde la perspective de la fiesta 18 gives a foundation al understanding of social development through the practice s and gradual organization of carnival from 1800 to 1904. She describes early celebrations that involved throwing water and flour, 18 Carnival: A Social History of Montevideo from the Celebrat ory Perspective
30 mayhem and vi olence, temporary equali zation of social classes and ensuing reforms that were put in place to barbar to civilization. Restrictions were placed, but what was more success ful was a gradual restructuring, in which the masses became spectato rs of different events, rather than disorderly participants (1991 a : 43). She points to the ephemeral, yet permanent and cyclical nature of carnival, which brings certain stability and comfort. The revelry is temporary, but always sure to return (Alfaro 199 1 a : 43). Alfaro supports that carnival is especially important as a reference point in Uruguayan history, as it is a more consistent aspect of the collective memory of a nation with a relatively short history that has been in search of cultural identity. Sans also speaks to this point in her work that centers on identity and g the popular perspective presented in carnival theater has [signaled] ... a definition, appropriation and recreation of the values of a disoriented, fractured and changing identity 19 peripheral land among many people (Europeans and indigenous, Spanish and Portuguese, Argentines and Brazilians, barbarians and civilized) and made up of a transplanted European population who has since searched for cultural markers which would form a collective identity (2008: 62). While Alfaro is perhaps more cited, the Brazilian anthropologist, Paulo de Carvalho Neto provides some of the earliest complete accounts of carnival in Montevideo in his work El carnaval de Montevideo; folklore, historia, sociologa (The Carnival of Montevideo: Folklore, History, Sociology). Carvalho Neto produced an 19 la p e r spectiva popular presente en el teatro de carnaval h
31 ethnographic description of the elements of carnival in this vo lume which was published in 1967, despite that his field research was carried out between 1953 1954. In the n years passed, I still believe ... that it was worth elaborating [this work] definitively and publishing it, fo r in this lapse of time, no other monograph arose regarding this subject 20 Neto systematically describes the lubolo groups of afro Uruguayan tradition, the murgas, parodistas, troupes and masas corales He offers a glossary of terms as well as a discussion of the changes in carnival along with brief comparisons with other carnivals. Also providing a precursor to published works of the 1990 Carnaval: Evo cacin de Montevideo en la histo ria y la tradicin. Published in 1966, this work accounts for much of the earlier history of carnival in general and carnival practices in Uruguay of the 19 th century, as Alfaro does. He places an emphasis on the history of candombe and also gives insight int o the 20 th century and how carnival was a growing and changing part of Uruguayan popular culture. Murga During the Dictat orship In addition to the many authors who focus on the creation, development and elements of murga there are studies which have foc used on specific topics Ginette A sonorous silence: Uruguayan popular culture and resistance to military rule (2000) Momo Encadenado: Crnica del carnaval en los aos de la dictadura (1972 1985) (2004) both focus on th e role murga and popular culture as tools for subversion and resistance to authoritarian rule and ultimately, 20 rridos diez aos, sigo creyendo ... que vali la pena elaborarlo definitivamente y publicarlo,
32 redemocratization. Much importance is placed on the role of murga within the dictatorship era (1973 1985) because it stands out as a period in h istory in which murga functioned as a mode of agency for civil society and was revolutionized as one of the last standing mediums of communication. Prior to the dictatorship, murga held a lesser social role as a mechanism of dissent or protest. Gustavo Rem past, Carnival reaffirmed hegemonic culture through permitted, fleeting forms of parody and burlesque or through rare expressions of the prohibited. In the context of the dictatorship, however, parody became a paraphrase and the prohibi ted became a It emerged as a venue for resistance when film, music, literature and art were censored and suppress ed silence a nd paralyze the entire society ... [establishing] the carnival tendance at performances soared ... murgas became ever more daring and direct in their 2000:77). University students, especially began forming murgas, which from then on diversified murga audiences. A collective cause was expressed through a marginal popular art that craftily used humor and parody to show resist ance in a seemingly unlikely way. Xos Enrquez book on murga d uring the dictatorship includes lyrics like the following from La Soberana in 1973 which were censored (2004:77): Sol de los Libres Sun of the free Nun ca se esconda, y con verdades Do no t ever hide, and with truths ¡Siempre responda! May you always respond! En nuestro pueblo In our people hay muchas nubes de confusin there are lots of clouds of confusion que estn cubriendo which are covering el claro cielo de la razn the clear sky of reason
33 Censorship, persecution and detainment were common, but murgas nonetheless fared their risks and persisted through this difficult time. murguistas were persecuted as much for the imaginary world that they created as for the actual persons that they were. The persons and not the characters, however, were arrested and The dictatorship era was a milestone in murga history because it widened its scope of influen ce and social strata, brought out crea importance beyond entertainment. Dube makes the parallel between the song, dance and religion of slaves of the U.S. South to illustrate how a collectiv e identity can strengthen social action, as has been the case with murga can have various readings and therefore, resistive effect (2000: 96) She explains repression in a theoretical frame, the case of Uruguay and the eventual rebuilding o f [the] essence of the murga is the critique, satire and ridicule, Murga was adopted by the middle class a upheavals of the time. Some groups were prohibited from performing, murguistas were followed, their houses searched at all hours of the day, people were detained, their shows were censored at the last minu te, but murgas continued performing. Murga provided a collective space where mixed social classes formed a collective resistance to the dictatorship. Enrquez explains the precursors of the political climate that led to dictatorship and limitations that w
34 instance, he quotes a letrista who was re writing lyrics before going on stag e A military officer was there t letrista jokingly and daringly asked if the officer was going to claim authorship in those years, murgas continued their artistry, but not without strains and with the heavy presence of the military looking over their shoulder. Hugo Martnez de Len also devotes a chapter to the subject of the dictatorship, censorship and protest through murga performance (2009:193). He writes of the strict controls that were placed on DAECPU and the repression on artists in general. There were tense negotiations with military le aders to release detained murguistas The military would try to stay a step ahead and be familiar with the history and social contexts that were criticized but not always able to do so audiences would still laugh at intended double meanings. To be safe, the military would simply cross out entire pages at a time, but even so, ideas were communicated with the body, with facial expressions, with choreography, with costume and with lunfardo a slang of the region common to tango (de Len 2009: 198). The milit ary was never fully successful in repressing the message murga conveyed. The era of dictatorship was one that limited social liberties and ruled with fear. Murga emerged as a venue and outlet for resistance and expression not only for the common man, b ut for all who opposed the military regime. One of the most famous songs to come out of this difficult period was A Redoblar a song of murga genre from
35 1979. hopes and effort 2000: 98). Examples such as this one gave life to the unspoken collective movement that slowly ga ined strength and helped to reinstate democracy. Gustavo Remedi, in his work, and National Culture (2004) ties together several of the afore mentioned topics as he also discusses the dictatorship, the subsequ ent search for national identity, as well as introduces murga as a reaction to neoliberalism. He raises several topics such as theology and the religiosity of carnival, how murga has been a voice to defend human rights and proposes a new means for interpre ting national culture through murga Remedi, as well as Alfaro (1991 a : e which is turned upside sedimentation of successive pagan, Christian, an d civic rituals and mythologies, carnival absorbs the toxins and residues of the civilizing process, filtering them through Throughout the literature there is a common phil osophical thread that emerges from the writings of Mikhail Bahktin who interprets the inverted world of carnival as one that offers resistance to oppression through laughter, parody and the grotesque (Sans 2008: 32) and challenges the hierarchical schemes of domination through the corrosive power of laughter (Alfaro 1991 a : 33) these being some of the mechanisms that brought channeled dissent during the dictatorship especially.
36 Women are cited sparingly throughout carni val literature In Uruguay, women have participated in many dimensions, such as makeup (Garca et al. 2012) and costume artists or in some of the other mentioned carnival arts such as candombe or revistas. However, news of the growing number of women in murga is mostly found in recent newspapers or magazines This trend can possibly be attributed to the rising popularity of Murga Joven, a government led project that offered murga instruction to youth ( Ch.2). These young groups naturally incorporated girls and women and i s where the existing all female groups grew from. Many of these groups are managed as cooperatives, granting equal stake to participants and avoiding the marginalization that can occur in traditional pyramid scheme management (Trinidad 2012). This might al so facilitate the inclusion of previously excluded individuals. Hugo Martnez de Len winning murgas which have brought new talent, creativity and breached new expressive territory (2009: 211). He also mentions that Murga J oven has also vindicated the creation of gender mixed murgas (de Len 2009: 212; Sans 2008: 35). In a blog entry (Uruguayan Women to A ssa ult King Momo) the role of Murga Joven murga is affirmed. Murga Joven is less traditional, innovative and has not been under the traditional regulations that are in place in the official competition (perdidosenlamusica.wordpre ss.com: Feb 26, 2012). To go back historically and see why and when women were not included as murga performers Milita Alfaro explains that a societal shift occurred around the turn of the 20 th
37 discreet mannerisms (1991 a : 135) ( Ch.3) comparsas (groups that paraded with drummers), but women still participated on a llegorical floats ( 1991a: 136 138). At that time, women did not participate in murgas, as they were still in form ation as a genre. I t was a growing past time for male workers. Women nonetheless, played a central role in carnival festivities, but were gradu ally tempered into acceptable participation, such as masquerades or floats ( Figure 1 11 Figure 1 12 ) Carvalho murga nerally, women are not accepted. A woman has never performed. When there is a need for a female ch aracter, a man will imitate [her] with a long dress and braids 21 unusual exception in 1932 in which a woman, Perlita Cucu, directed a murga and was accepted. Carvalho Neto quotes a famous director who comments that wom en would get in the way of the critique that murga Murgas (women, homosexuals, blacks, domestic worker, prostitute, invalid, drunks, immigrants or rural people) the subject of discriminatory jokes, but this is changing and is ; interview, Jimena Mrquez July 11, 2012; Remedi 2004:147 ). Even as late as 1998, Ethel Jorge wrote in her anth all participants ... ted by men. There are few women ... also mentions sparse participation of women in m urga and brings out a prevailing 21 Generalmente, no se aceptan mujeres. En la referida, nunca sali una mujer. Cuando hay necesidad de un personaje f emenino, un hombre lo imita con un vestido largo y trenzas
38 speculates this is perhaps a matter of custom and habit and possibly an excuse to see this genre as exclusively masculine (Sans 2008: 36) Remedi notes the shortcomings of murga, ... [its] deficiencies is the lack of women and young people as both protagonists in the murgas or as the sources of the stories, themes, and 22 : 127). T he last decad e has seen a shift in said exclusive prac tices, hence this investigation. The irony of murga having been comprised of a particular strata, mostly men of low er and middle class, for so long is that murga is an art form that inherently claims to reflect the thoughts, desires, problems, interests, etc. of the people. Yet, said summations and projections have been delivered through a biased, limited filter until recent history and have not been an accurate or fair representation. Historicall y, women have been ... across cultures continue to give value and importance to recognizing and validating both men and women as contributing individuals in the arts and otherwise (Sterzi, 2010: 60) could not be portrayed in the same way if performed by men (Trinidad : 2012). Jimena Mrquez wr iter and founder of Cero Bola parodying gender. This way we have opportunities to touch on new subjects. For 22 Research for this publication was carried out in 1993, published in 1996 and republished in English
39 example, we have a cupl on m enstruation That changes everything 23 : 2012). Women are not only becoming more prevalent in murga but also contributing to a fuller understanding and reflection of Uruguayan society that hopefully, contributes to a more equitable and just reality for all people. Overview In this chapter, I provided a basic understanding of carnival and explained the components of a particular expression called murga, unique to Uruguay. I outlined important historic points, its inception, the dictatorship era and concluded with the limited participation women have had in this genre. In chapter two I will expand upon the role of murga in Uruguayan society, its function and purpose in various social spheres, such as in local neighborhoods and stages, its rel ationship with politics, the media and the effects of professionalization. Additionally, I will draw parallels with other popular sources of entertainment, soccer and theater. In chapter three I consider historic points clusion from murga, conditions of contemporary carnival, masking and costuming, biases against women, their recent inclusion and the hindrances to improvement of gender e quality, the instrumental use of humor and music, general results and conclusions of my study, limitations and considerations for future studies. 23 "Como mujer pu edo poner en boca de mujeres cosas que si la dicen hombres quedaran slo como pa As tenemos oportunidad de tocar temas nuevos. Por ejemplo, hace mos un cupl Eso cambia todo
40 Figure 1 1. Members of Cero Bola rehearsing at Club La Espada Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi. Figure 1 2. Members of Cero Bola rehearsing at Club La Espada Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi.
41 A B Figure 1 3. Percussion Instruments. A) Percussionists from Cero Bola at a rehearsal. The left instrument is a bombo the other is a redoblante Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi. B) Cero Bola percussion in a parade, 2012. Photo courtesy of Graciela Guffanti A B Figure 1 4. Women Directing. A) Victoria Gutierrez, choral arranger, leading a Cero Bola rehearsal Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi. B ) Jimena Mrquez, directing Eskandalo in 2013 carnival. P hoto courtesy of Leonardo Sosa.
42 A B Figure 1 5 Make up. A) A murguista from La Gran Mu eca has his face painted side view B) Another murguista having his face painted before a show, fron t view. Photos courtesy of Gustavo Gurlikin. A B Figure 1 6. Costumes A) An example of ornate costumes worn by Araca la Cana B) Another example of costumes. These portray explorers. Photos courtesy of Ana Szogi.
43 Figure 1 7 La Gran Mueca picture d in costume 2013 Photo courtesy of Gustavo Gurlikin. Figure 1 8 Logos of several murgas Listed from left to right: Agarrate Catalina, Los Diablos Verdes, Cero Bola, La Bolilla que Faltaba, Curtidores de Hongos, A Contramano, La Mojigata, La Gran S iete.
44 A B Fig ure 1 9 Teatro de Verano outdoor theater where the official competition is hosted A) A daytime photo. Phot o courtesy of www.absoluturuguay com B) A ni ghttime photo with illumination. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Gurlikin. Figure 1 10 A photograph of La Gaditana que se va from the exhibition at the Museum of Carnival, dated 1908. Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi.
45 A B Figure 1 11 Women in carnival at the turn of the 20 th century. A) A March 6, 192 4 cover of the weekly m agazine Mundo Uruguayo depicting women i n facemasks, parading in the back of a car. B) A Feb 23, 1928 cover with Harlequin and Columbine ( Arlequn and Colombina in Spanish ), two characters of the Commedia dell arte an Italian improvisational theater of th e 16 th 17 th centuries with standard characters. These and other characters have become popularized in carnival and otherwi se, throughout the world Figure 1 12 comme morated in some of our Social Centers Mundo Uruguayo
46 CHAPTER 2 MURGA AND ITS ROLE IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE Introduction Modern societies have tangible and intangible symbols that affirm and reflect a group, an identity. Benedict all the other members of a nation, because there is an imaginary understanding of borders, and I add, also of culture. Adopted symbols are created from imagination. This is not to negate the existence or importance of said symbols and imply that they are are a part of human creation, ingenuity and invention. This process of self definition or self creation has been especially important in Uruguay, a country that was founded as a buffer state and is still inhabited by people not originally indigenous to its geography. The ado ption of outside trends and customs is ubiquitous, borrowing from European, African and North American clothes, language, music, dance, foods, architecture, etc. With a population that is 88% European descent, a majority of cultural habits and practices ar e from Europe, carnival being one of them (CIA World Factbook). The purpose of this cha p t er is to consider some of the social and public spheres that interact with murga and how these support or hinder the purpose and intent of murga as a collective, publ concept of the public sphere to discuss the autonomy, or lack thereof, of this art form and support how in fact, the public sphere is disappearing. Specifically, I will expand on the inherent nature of murga as an agent of expression, the role of neighborhoods and tablados the influence of politics, the media, professionalization and economic
47 interests, the influence of other popular realms of entertainment like soccer and theater and a renewed intere st in the genre through Murga Joven a project developed in the Hab a carrier of public opinion; its function as a critical judge is precisely w hat makes the public character ... r egard, murga directly facilitates a public with critical opinion that is meaningful for its participants, audience, identity construction and influence over social issues and therefore, politics. Ideas are discussed in public places, murgas practice and pe rform in places open to the public, which goes hand in hand with the description of 18 th century England, Germany and France bourgeoisie having critical discussions in salons and coffeehouses. Participants sometimes speak of how murgas help to discuss soci al issues and bring about cooperation and tolerance of ideas. Though different from he people who began practicing murga were not of the elite, but rather the working class, but the two do share that only men were admitted to su ch gatherings. Habermas points out that after the 18 th century, public interest became convoluted with the interests of the market 1 the circulation of print material and media, which also became enmeshed with the market as advertising and propaganda were the basis for sust aining the costly operation of printing. This overlapping and mixing of public and private interests made for a disappearance of the public sphere. A capitalist market and media were forming when murga came about towards the end of the 1 9 th century, so it could be said that from its inception, these had an influence on murga In 1 Ch. 3 expands on capitalism, gender roles and carnival.
48 influenced by markets and media. However, the media is nonetheless a sourc e of information from which murgas draw subject matter and content. What is notable is how much the market and media have increased in the cases of professionalized murgas. Murga as a Source of Expression and C ollectivity on murga, public space and identity explains Murga occurs prominently in the public sphere, in a manner that is intimately connected to pla ce and constitutive of identity ... [it] maintains communal identity through its use of space, its ties to place, and, in the absence of physical presence, through collective imaginati murga ... forges communities of spectators, and of murguistas as well as a sense of communion between actors and ction occurs with physical space and amongst the also through radio and video transmission of murga to distant places, that conn ect people who are not together adding t o the invisible collective dimension Murgas are related to place because they identify with particular neighborhoods and are associated with social club s where they practice It is also part of a wider framed as a national a rt and treasured as a form of cultural music from its two large and influential neighbors, Brazil and Argentina ( Kirschstein 2007: 187). In 2005 it was declared a Patrimonio Intangible a piece of national intangible heritage by the Uruguayan government ( Intendencia de Montevideo: ). Murga is self constructing and reflective and thereby affirms identity. It is specific to Uruguay so much so th at it can be difficult for audiences in other
49 places or tourists in Uruguay to understand its jokes (Kirschstein 2007: 188 189; Sans 2008: 17). Murga is a rich artistic genre with a wide scope of expression within its various [it] is an attract ive genre, because it has like lots of ingredients in there, it gives you many ways of expressing yourself says Milita Alfaro 2 ( Museo del Carnaval i nterview May 10 2012). Murga also permits and welcomes shock as it contributes to a sort of catharsis a nd often attempts to evoke a range of emotions. In a personal in terview, Jimena Marquez, founde r and writer for Cero Bola shared the reaction to a section of last ye you would look at, say, the cupl on menstruation. I always liked watching the older all ... [smiling] and he would be laughing, but sort of blushi 3 ( intervi ew, July 11, 2012). In murga, taboo subjects like menstruation in show, which also included a segment on feminine orgasm, or like in 2007 when Japilong mimicked masturbation are allowed because they contribute to shock humor and are a type of public purging that is special to carnival Heavier, darker subject matters like suicide, drug consumption and violence due to pasta base (a cheap, impure form of c ocaine that is a social concern of recent years) or the presence of street children, for ex ample are addressed but lighter, more trivial matters add to the layering of topics and intensities. 2 la murga resulta un gnero muy atractivo, no? porque tiene como muchos ingredientes metidos ah adentro, te da unas posibilidades de expresarte 3 vos mirabas ponele, el cupl de la menstruacin. Siempre a m me gustaba mucho ver los m atrimonios
50 The idea of a catharsis and expression in murga is explained by Capagorry and Dom nguez in their anthology a form of recognizing ourselv es in our achievements and frustrations, in our sadness and joys, in our daily hopes and delays; the path wide and generous, in the end, to shout out loud injustices, and give the green light to satire, to the hustle, to the picaresque in hand that is also a relentless form of self 4 (1984: 6). Murga functions like a social therapeutic force, that along with a restorative effect may also have that of release and protest of what cannot ordinarily be spoken. Although Daniel Vida rt refutes that carni val in its earlier essence, is still practiced due to social controls he explains that, Carnival, a Gordian knot untied by incomplete ceremonies of liberation and restitution, was, in its origin, a therapeutic operation. Its outbrea k of momentary madness cured the neurasthenia carried through the weeks and months of mental and emotional rubbish The three days of drunkenness, intercourse, inversion of roles, burlesque masquerades, agitations, fantasies and mysteries shaped a fool proof tool for the curing of collective burdens and routines 5 (1997: 146 7). While it can be argued that the public no longer lives carnival as it once did, as a chaotic, even violent, departure from everyday life, the transformation of individuals to tem porary fictitious characters that speak of social, political and personal concerns in an unfiltered remnant of the therapeutic catharsis that Vidart describes. This therapeutic use is literary employed by individuals such as Edn Iturrioz who directly appl ies his knowledge and teaching of murga to reach out to marginal groups through his work with 4 una forma de reconocernos a nosotros mismos en nuestros logros y fru straciones, en nuestras tristezas y alegras, en nuestros anhelos y postergaciones cotidianas; el camino ancho y generoso, en fin, para gritar en voz alta las injusticias, y darle luz verde a la stira, al bullicio, a la picaresca en ristre, que es tambi n una forma implacable de auto 5 su origen una operacin teraputica. Su estallido de momentnea locura curaba las neurasteni as carreadas por las semanas y los meses de basura ment al y sentimental ... Los tres das de borracheras, cojinches, inversin de papeles, mascaradas burlescas, agitaciones, fantasas y misterios conformaban un instrumento infalible para la curacin cole ctiva de agobios y rutinas
51 prisoners, poor neighborhoods, the disabled, the elderly and with young children (interview, July 4, 2012). In an interview with a former member of La Bolilla q ue Faltaba, Mercedes Martnez, commented on the influential power of murga : murga in its dimension, adds as an agent of change to develop sensibility, intellig ence, without a doubt, for sure 6 ( interview, July 12, 2012). Emilia Daz and others ha ve also talked about a certain magic or spirit of carnival because it is poetry, because it is social commitm ent, that to me is fundamenta l 7 ( i nterview March 10, 2012). Undoubtedly, murga and carnival bring a different energy that some say is even overpowering and not o nly of a happy, safe nature, and is an opportun ity to connect to people, both real and imaginary at a visceral lev el, with that which is vulnerable, coarse, hidden, misunderstood, but also joyous. Qualities like these that suggest an singularly exchanges ideas, but because murga is of a c ollective nature and has increasingly linked itself to commercial markets, it does not stand apart from the economic counterparts that Habermas explains are intrusive to the agenda of the public sphere. Tablados and Neighborhoods Neighborhoods have played an important supportive role for murgas as fan bases and helping to foment future generations to join groups (Krischstein 2007: 200 6 7 porque es poesa, porque es llena de metforas, de luz, no s, es como una chispa de vida, por l o general con una cuestin de compromiso social, que para m eso es fundamental
52 201). Fans cheer not only for the group, but for the neighborhood they represent. Emilia Daz describes the experience of the outdoor it would get packed. The street would be cu t off. Traffic would be cut off ... ... the seating would be made up of chairs. No one [ authority] would cut the street off, they [neighborhood peop le] would cut if off by sitting ... neighbors, at the balcony across the street. This was their entertainment f or the afternoon, for the night 8 Museo del Carnaval interview, March 10, 2012). A lthough murgas are associated with certain neighborhoods and possibly still practice there, it is not uncommon that many people do not live in those particular neighborhoods due to a need for an adequate rehearsal locale and the shifting of artists among g roups because of professionalization (Krischstein 2007: 212 213). This indicates some of the points Habermas makes about a disappearing public sphere. A greater concern for location and pay prevails over the original intent of a make shift group of friend s, family and neighbors getting together to celebrate and exchange ideas through murga and the now more sophisticated productions that require large economic support to function. In the earlier half of the 20 th century neighborhoods would build tablados temporary, decorative stages, throughout Montevideo ( Figure 2 1 2 2 ) Murgas would rotate from stage to stage. The stages themselves were mobile and were moved as well. Between 1945 and 1954, it is estimated that there were between eighty and one hundred and sixty tablados or even as many as three hundred by other estimates (de 8 die [autoridades] cortaba la calle, la
53 Len 2009: 130, 126). These began as free locations of amateur entertainment in which neighborhoods pooled together money to cover costs (de Len 2009: 127). Still today, tablados have Emilia Daz the public of the tablado ... diff like it to b 9 ( Museo del Carnaval interview, May 10 2012). Neighborhoods began charging for entrance, though murgas certainly did and stil l do perform shows that are for the community or for purposes outside of carnival such as in schools, parti es, political rallies, stadiums and weddings (Manrique 1999: par44). There ) which is becoming more true as murgas are performing throughout the year in various forms, functions and venues. Today, there are over twenty tablados, some of a temporary nature, some permanent with varying entrance prices, but these have nonetheless bee n commercialized and privatized and ar e part of a competitive scheme. While many people are open about the fact that being in a murga is a job, not just a hobby, few people are able to make a living solely as a murguista and in such a case, the individual is likely to work as a musician, instructor or artist, more broadly, as well. In 1952 DAECPU 10 (Associated Directors of Carnavalesque and Popular Shows of Uruguay) was es presides over juried competitions and awards prize mone y to winners of the five performance groups 9 ... es el pueblo, no van con su chaqueta y sus tacos. Eso me fascina. Es el pueblo qu e est ah y es el ms difcil porque se distraen, porque estn los chorizos, y me gusta que sea as, que sea difcil 10 (Directores Asociados de Espectculos Carnavaleros y Populares del Uruguay)
54 Lannert 1994:2). The establishment of DAECPU went hand in hand with the about more polished ensembles and the initial increase in ta blados, but an eventual decline as clubs began selling tickets (de Len 2009: 134 135). Manrique explains the eventual dominance of social clubs gathering audiences over tablados : The proliferation of tablados, the free access to shows and the extension of neighborhood carnival celebrations granted murgas the opportunity to be seen by a larger a udience with greater continuity ... the murga movement grew between 1930 and 1950, a time in which their success was imitated by neighborhood clubs, that in a shor t time, in virtue of their infrastructure, managed to capture the public by hosting big dances and depopulating the tablados 11 (1999: 6). DAECPU was created as an organizational body to coordinate groups, logistics and contracts. Though the intention was to establish norms, create regulations and protect the rights of performers and owners, in many ways, DAECPU became a determining force for murgas who might want to compete professionally, but are met with exorbitant costs of affiliation, limitations placed on creativity and a hierarchical scheme based on seniority. It is important for murgas to get as many tablados as possible during the carnival season because this provides exposure and revenue and Mer cedes Martnez mentioned the decision making power in those that give opportu aesthetic guidelines, but they are the ones that pay and they are the ones that decide 11 to al espectculo y la extensin de las celebraciones carnavalescas barriales otorgaron a las murgas la oportunidad de ser vistas por mayor 1930 y 1950, fecha en que el ejemplo es imitado con gran xito por los clubes barriales que en muy poco tiempo, en virtud de su infraestructura, logran capturar el pblico en grandes bailes despoblando los
55 who is succ essful in carnival who will have plenty of work ... there are other worthy proposals [of ideas] that hold the opportunity [of being good] 12 nterview July 12, 2012). Jimena Mrquez talks of the frustration of not having much stage time despite getting positive audience reception tablados a murga received, even though the people loved [our] murga at the tablados ... 13 nterview July 11, 2012). murga was met with g reat sympathy [support] from the public. It responds to a lot of other 14 interview, July 12, 2012). A murga attention and popularity is part of the unofficial competitive process, but even those murgas tha t are well liked by the public may not gain favor from people involved in business dealings or the jury, which are important sources of revenue Organizers and tablado owners likely hire group s that are sure to bring revenue and ha ve guaranteed popularity. I t is difficult for emerging groups to gain ground in a genre that has existed for over a century. This is evidence of the market interfering with the purpose of the public sphere and effectively, dissolving it. The ties between performing murga and marke t interests are in tertwined in such a way that the artist must adhere to certain requirements or else is out of commission and not part of a wider professional community. Some say that amateur, neighborhood groups perhaps better retain the spirit and func tion of murga more so than those that have excessively 12 hay estos seores, que tienen muy poco discernimiento de pautas estticas, pero son los que pagan y son los que deciden quienes son los exitosos en el carnaval, qu ienes son los que trabajan bien ... hay 13 fuimos la penltima murga para cantar en tablados, siendo que a la gente le encantaba la murga [nuest ra] en l os tablados 14 La murga de mujeres cont con una simpata impresionante por parte del pblico. Responde a muchas frustraciones de otras mujeres.
56 murgas conserve a greater number of traditional elements in their formation, spontaneity escape t he paradigmatic neoliberal axis 15 (1999:9). In this glimpse of a possible groups do not escape the precedence that is g iven to the market. Influence of Politics, the Media, Economics & Professionalization The interaction of politics, financial demands and interests as well as media coverage are clear indicators of the modern reality of a disappeared public sphere. Haberma s writ the world fashioned by the mass media is a public sphere in private people are forced to have their publicly relevant weakened by edi torializing and the merging of information with critical debate, tied to politics and economics in order to stay in business. Politics has for a long time been a subject matter of focus for murga shows, but furthermore, is even more affiliated as murgas are sometimes part of political rallies. They not only project their ideas, but act on them by directly supporting the activities of a candidate. Jos Cozzo weighs into political power by explaining that, politicians are scared of murgas ... that has all the murgas against them. Theater ac 15 en cuanto a formacin, espontaneidad e integracin popular, aunque de todos modos no escapan al eje paradigmtico neoliberal.
57 location where they can act for free like it is permitted to murguistas 16 lose the election. Easy. They are generators of opinion, more so than a weekly or a dai ly newspaper. And they are from the lowest s egments of society, which are also the most numerous 17 ( interview, June 22, 2012). Most murgas are left leaning politically and several performed at t he Frente Amplio third party coalition tha t won the presidency for the first time in 2005 with Tabar Vasquez) pre election rallies and also on the day of the victorious invited the murga Agarrate Catalina to have a congratulatory dinner for an award they received while he was still a senator. A close relationship is carried with the state since the IMM (Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo 18 ), the city government is a sponsor of the carnival competition and als o has a cable television channel that specializes on its coverage (Sans 2008: 29 30). It is not uncommon to see politicians imitated with exaggerated costumes or clich lines and caricatures. A humorous side note is that when the left won, murgas faced a n ew challenge because they no longer aimed to criticize the government that was in power. Director of A Contramano, Gustavo Cabrera concurred on the influence of murga years, the politicians were kind of worried because what we say the people are going to listen to, more so than the electoral campaigns 19 (interview, June 28, 2012). It would be 16 This refers to the agreement that the city a llows use of the Teatro de Verano a large outdoor theater for the official competition. 17 los polticos le tienen miedo a las murgas Yo no querra estar en el pellejo de aquel que tuviera a toda la murga contra ellos. Los actores de teatro no recib en un local donde pueden actuar gratis como se le permite a los murguistas. Porque el da que no se los des, se van en contra y perds las elecciones. Fcil. Son generadores de opinin ms que un semanario o un diario. Y son de los segmentos ms bajos de l 18 Municipality of Montevideo
58 interesting to survey people on how they receive information and what influences their opinions in order to have a more concrete understanding of influential power. Media is often a subject matter of murga as there is commentary on the rise of technology and mass communication and is also a direct source for content, since commentary is based on what is experienced and what is learned through the media. Politics is of particular interest in Uruguay where voting is mandatory and where the population and political activity is concentrated in the capital, Montevideo (Kirschstein 2007:250). Representatives and senators a re easily accessible or seen in public and since most r allies and manifestations occur in the capital, it is not difficult for people to be near and aware of events and involved if they so choose. Murgas have mostly formed in the capital, where competitio ns, masquerades and parades have long been hosted, but with improved and more widespread technology, more murgas exist outside the capital as well, though there are no studies on the matter, currently. Murga has long been covered on radio. There is an imp murgas and their fans stay up hearing the results of the competition on the radio point by point and the special mentions, this sometimes going as late as five or six in the morning (Lamolle & Lombardo 1998: 97 100). These points are also available in newspapers or on the internet. Coverage of carnival provides standings, but also interviews and critiques that can be important towards a murgas financial success. Acc practi cally all forms of serious press dedicate a page or at least sporadic articles on carnival during Janu ary, February 19 estos ltimos aos los polticos estaban medio preocupados porque lo que decimos nosotros, la gente lo va a escuchar, ms que a las campaas electorales
59 and part of March 20 (1998:71). The use of murga is also noticeable in tv commercials and radio ads. For example, murga voices are used to pr omote the most popular yerbas 21 (interview, Jos Cozzo June 22, 2012). Complete TV transmission of carnival shows is a recent development I believe this is in part because it has not always been greatly valued as a cultural practice. Emilia D az who is a tv figure and participated in a murga mentioned that, it was not well looked upon that the channel 12 figures and contracted individuals participate in carnival. In fact, it was explicitly stated in the contract [t hat one should not participate] ... tha t it would discredit somehow 22 Museo del Carnaval interview May 10 2012). Isabel Sans notes that not until 2003 did VTV, a channel which also covers sports, buy exclusive rights to transmit all carnival competitions and parades (2008: 14). She indicates that in addition to tv and radio there is wide journalistic coverage via newspapers and magazines, webpages, online radio, CD recordings, though there is a lesser availability and production of DVDs (Sans 2008: 14). In 2001 Falta y Resto included these lyr ics about modern day communication technology (Sans 2008: 176): La Falta por Internet La Falta on the internet al ritmo del salpicn 23 going at the rhythm of the salpicn navegando por la red navigating the web va cantando su opinin. goes singing its o pinion. Si algo ms quiere saber If you want to know anything else Anote la direccin take down the web address bsquenos en su PC, search us on your PC 20 cticamente todos los medios de prensa serios dedican durante los meses de enero y febrero y parte de marzo una p gina fija o al menos notas espor dicas a temas carnavaleros 21 yerb a refers to the herbs used to prepare mate the most popular drin k, a central part of daily life in Uruguay. 22 no estaba bien visto que las figuras o contratados por canal 12 hicieran carnaval. De hecho estaba 23 A section of the show, Ch.1 explains sections of the show
60 Falta y Resto punto com. Falta y Resto dot com. Many shows, especially recent ones, are available t hrough sites such as youtube.com, but older ones, as little as only five or ten years ago, are not available. Those that go even further back are likely to be of poor quality, if found. Not to mention, that this is only in regard to professional murgas Th ere are dozens of amateur murgas that have little to no coverage and recordings are not in circulation. Sans comments on the lack of archives on the part of DAECPU and that the archives that exist via VTV are subject to the cooperation of the company. Two other sources are the IMM and AGADU 24 (General Association of Authors of Uruguay), but also have patchy material because it is subject to what an author chooses to submit for copyright protection (2008: 30). In November of 2006 the Museo del Carnaval (Museu m of Carnival ) opened its doors and now functions as a performance venue, an educative center and an effort to catalogue and archive much of this material that has gone overlooked, from costumes, photographs, lyrics, to interviews and recordings. Hopefully it will compensate for the previous shortage of preservation and organization of artifact s (Figure 2 3, 2 4, 2 5 ). Due to progressi ve improvements in shows and consequential professionalization, economic matters have become especially important for mur gas what some believe is counter to the values and ideals of the genre being that most have leftist agendas and the original form was of a basic nature, of people from the neighborhood putting costumes, music and ideas together in an informal fashion. Lam if you want to see those costumes, enjoy all that color and display, well, forget about the 24 Asociacin General de Autores del Uruguay
61 neighborhood tablados the cheap ti (that no one e ven explains what it consists of) because those two carnivals are simply i ncompatible 25 capitalist system that mo st countries adhere to. With these norms in place, there is not much for clinging to nostalgic ideologies of what murga or carnival may represent as a social phenomenon, there is an inevitable economic focus. Gabriela Gmez speaks of there being a different sound when a group is made up of friends and of what the true purp what happens is .. professionalized ... ... you have to be careful that it not become too professional and not eno ugh about the lived experience 26 (i nterview June 26, 2012). Groups seem to have trade bonds that are at the center of this craft and trying to maximize their success by seeking the best components. Emilia Daz comments upon this saying, carniv al [shows] are so sophisticated or professionalized to the point that there are shows that you can see are per fect, but they are missing soul ... Today shows are prepared more than anything for a competition, not for a celebrat ion, which is how it used t o be 27 nterview July 12, 2012). Lamolle goes on to outline the many ways murgas make money ( tablados other shows, prize money, donations, fundraising events, commercial sponsors, selling booklets and other paraphernalia), but also the 25 si ustedes quieren ver esos trajes, disfrutar de todo ese colorido y despliegue, bueno, olvdense de los ue nadie explica en qu 26 lo que pasa e s que est muy profesionalizado ... la cabe za de uno est profesionalizada ... lo aga tan profesional y no vivencial 27 a m no me gusta tanto cuando el carnaval se sofistica o se profesionaliza al punto que hay espectculos que vos le ves que est n perfectos pero les falta alma ... Hoy se estn preparando espectculos ms que nada para una competencia, no para una fiesta que era como se haca antes
62 large overheads o f materials, transportation and fees that must be covered before the artists are paid (2005: 62 63). Although there is limited information on the details of the financial workings of carnival Manrique points out that after covering costs of technology, costumes, choreography, travel, musicians, etc., some of the more prominent, famous murgas have expenses upwards of $30,000 (1999: 8). In 1994 Lopetegui and Lannert reported murgas spending around $10,000 on food, transport and costumes (1994: 5). Currentl y, average monthly incomes are around $12,524 U ruguayan pesos, which is about $639 US dollars, minimum monthly incomes are under half as much and higher incomes about twice as much ( Salary Survey 2012) Clearly, murgas are expensi ve and risky financial ven tures, and while they make money for some, most groups undergo the struggle to cover costs because they value participating. somewhat like commercial brands. When asked about the challenges of a murga Jimena Mr the money. Doing carnival without money is diff icult, but extremely gratifying ... buck to pay for the audit ion [fees], we were far fr om it ... w e had to work and pitch a hand 28 ( interview, July 11, 2012). Ironically, Kirschstein notes a conversation she had with a cab driver who pointed out that murga 29 because rich neighborhoods have never b een associated with this activity which is 28 prueba, no tenamos mismo ni un peso para pagar la prueba, estbamos lejos 29
63 people who believe that money and competition should not be part of the equation with culture and art, but it is the unfortunate me ans to an end for performing and being part of the larger carnival ( Kirschstein 2007: 258; i nterview Jimena Mrquez July 11, 2012). The coercive effects of politics, media and economic interest fall into line with ing absorbed by the interaction of these with a private discourse that is no longer able to remain objective. Influence of Theater and Soccer Both soccer and theater are two areas of concentrated interest when it comes to entertainment in Uruguay. The two are often compared and contrasted with carnival. There are many people involved in both sport and carnival and theater and carnival. In a 50th year commemorative compilation DAECPU, in one section, published the names of soccer players (and basketball pla yers) who had been a part of carnival (2002: 56). This how DAECPU was born. Like in soccer (the other great, popular passion, her forever sister), amateurism is finalized 30 are often coupled as popular entertainments that have long appealed to the masses and are part of the national imagina ry. Similarly, it is not uncommon for many who are involved in theater to also be involved in carnival involves formal training and carnival performance is traditionally amateur, but these lin es are continually blurring and many artists work in both areas, which in fact, have a 30 amateurismo finaliza
64 elite, under quotation marks, world of theater against carnival In the sense t hat, carnavalero were raised with Goethe and 31 Museo del Carnaval i nterview May 10, 2012). Despite this, there is still significant cross over between those who work in theater and carnival The two likely draw different social demographics, but over time, have been sharing audiences more and more. Murga Madre is an example of the convergence of carnival and theater, it is a 2002 prize winning musical written, directed and performed by two famous carnavaleros Pablo two characters who have minimal pro ps and scenery, but through a montage of scenes that transition in and out of anonymous characters, and a constant play on words, they act out many experiences of carnival : the director, the arguments during rehearsal, the wife who has to stay up waiting f or her drunk husband to return from a murga rehearsal, the competitiveness It captures the romantic side of carnival and murga as appens during carnival is so grand, that Earth and sky are confused), but also the rougher edges like arguing or drinking excessively. It is als o not uncommon for writers such as Jimena Mrquez to write for several murgas and theater as well, which she som etimes performs in too. In 2011 she wrote Te Pasa Algo 31 e, entre comillas, con el carnaval. maneja sutilezas, no maneja un nivel de arte exquisito que manejamos nosotros, los chicos que nos criamos con Goet
65 which ran in 2011 and 2012 and this year she has written and performed with three different murgas One striking difference between theater and murga is the access that publics have to rehearsals an d shows. While tickets to the competition in the Teatro de Verano can be hard to come by due to cost and availability, murgas are more accessible for someone with low purchasing power. Daz recalls her experience o f rehearsing with in theater ... I remember that impacted me a lot ... the thing about carnival is that you either dive in from the start or surely you will b e a carnival bureaucrat 32 quotes a similar experience of a murguista concerning an openness with the public, ual in the world of performance ... but in the case of murga ... ... you see the faces of the people w hile you are preparing the show 33 contributes to the communal and participatory element mentioned earlier. Though the audience may not give direct input, it is a steady feedback during the creative process. The links between murga and theater are perhaps more evident as both involve perfo rming on a stage, wearing costumes and choreography, but the vocabulary, popular culture aspect and fanaticism form many links with soccer. 32 en teatro se trabaja mucho a puerta cerrada, vos no ests ensayando y probando chistes todo el tiemp o, eso es el da del estreno ... Me acuer do que eso me impact muchsimo ... lo que tiene el carnaval es que, o te zambulls de entrada, o seguramente vas a ser un burcrata del carnaval 33 to en el mundo del espectculo ... o, murga ... se da as ... vos ves los rostros de la gente mientras vas preparando el espect culo
66 To begin with, both murga and soccer are centered on competition and the glory of winning and have both involved mo stly me both are the most widely followed of their respective categories and both are considered symbolically imagination that evokes strong emotio summarizes what a murguista feels for his profession ... a f irst kiss, but also of the last ... Carnival is full of melancholy, tension, nerves, jealousy frustration, of energies that are suddenly liberated, like an explosion 34 Director and long time murguista Gabriela Gmez I love murga, murga that has en dured the most time ... Eve ryone should feel what I feel! ... my eyes fill with tears because it [ murga ] is a place where you can say, enjoy, sing, dance 35 Murga ] gra that it will let me go 36 Gustavo Cabrera, and something that he cannot get away from by Christian Font (interview, June 28, 2012; interview, July 5, 2012). A simila r sense of passion is often attributed to soccer. A common phrase about doing something for love of the sport (or love of art) is 34 emocin del primer beso, pero t 35 ado ms tiempo Todo el mundo tiene que sentir lo que yo siento!...a m se me llenan los ojos de lagrimas, 36
67 game, the club and place it rep resents and the broader scope of its fans and legacy that is not distracted by money or fame. This is something that is criticized as left in the past both in murga played be cause they loved the sport. Each faces the changes that professionalization and the need for sponsors have brought. Soccer players and murguistas are both (a pass), when murguistas change murgas There are not murgas are able to ask individua and singers like in soccer 37 (2008: 246). power, to be the protagonist 38 interview, July 12, 2012). Not only are murgas said to go semi finals, since murgas go through several rounds in which there are eliminations (Kirschstein 2007: 206). Names are pulled at random to determine who will perform in which groups, similar to how groups are pulled in the World Cup. The passion for murga is shown by cheering fans, display of colors and devotion to particular groups, much like in soccer. Drums and cymbals, instruments present in 37 hay un funcionamiento comerci s y cantantes como en el ftbol 38 lucha por poder, por ser protagonist a.
68 murga, are used in soccer stands to cheer and the subject matter of soccer is prevalent in murga (Kirschstein 2007: 211). Murgas may comment on wins, losses, famous moments or scandals. In 2012, many groups included jokes about a controversy that Uruguayan international soccer sta r, Luis Surez had with Patrice Evra, in allegations of racism when Surez made remarks that had him suspended for several games and when re In 1993 Contrafarsa a murga known for innovation, dressed as a fictive so ccer team (Ramos 2011) In 2005, the Diablos Verdes also had a show in which they parodied a soccer team (Kirschstein 2007: 212). A love/hate relationship for arbiters is also apparent in both soccer and murga ... the paradox tha t 39 carnival summarizes the sentiment and purpose that is shared by both murga and soccer: C arnival, soccer and the neighborhood carry a rich individual and collective life experience. Where the challenges that are commonly and intensely lived forge the value of playing for sacred causes: against injustice, for love of life and ones neighbor, wit h honesty, surrender, beauty 40 (Uruguay Todo el Ao Carnaval 2008) The spirit, language and symbolism of both soccer and murga make for widely popular sources of entertainment that appeal to mass audiences and contribute to a sense of collective and natio nal identity. 39 ... la paradoja de q ue todos dicen no creer en los jurados, sin embargo se 40 Carnaval, ftbol y barrio conllevan una riqusima experiencia de vida, individual y colectiva. Donde los desafos intensamente vividos en comn va n forjando en cada uno el valor de jugarse por causas sagradas: contra la injusticia, por amor a la vida y al prjimo, con honestidad, entrega, belleza.
69 Murga Joven In 1997, an agreement between TUMP (Taller Uruguayo de Msica Popular) (Uruguayan Workshop of Popular Music) and the IMM (Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo) created a community project called Murga Joven The program sent murga musicians and singers to various neighborhoods to teach the art of murga with the intent of spreading values of citizenship to disenfranchised youth, provide training in this activity as an alternative to activities that are counterproductive for society, involve youth in a positive activity and increase social awareness. The program did not set out to start new murgas much less an entire segment of youth murgas that today involves almost two thousand youth in the annual gathering, Encuentro de Murga Joven Many murgas who were a product of this project have since joined the official carnival competition and some have even won first place. Alejandro Scherzer and Guzmn Ramos published a book that expands upon this phenomenon and dedicates separate chapters to three of the more successful murgas from Murga Joven: Agarrate Catalina, Queso Magro and La Mojigata. Murga Joven is of special importance because it revamped interest in younger generations in an otherwise older tradition and also allowed for new idea s and changes to happen since it functions outside of the official carnival, its regulations as well as schedule. The final rounds of its competition are in late November, whereas the official carnival is January to March, allowing for some to participate in both. It has served as an experimental and growing ground for the genre by allowing less conventional ideas to be carried out and also by through the inclusion of women (de Len 2009: 211, 212). The escape from stringent regulations and decreased focus on financial matters
70 perhaps makes Murga Joven groups form more naturally and be more able to brand their own ideas. murgas do, those in Murga Joven or who are products of Mur ga Joven tend to function as cooperatives. This implies equally distributed pay, collective decision making and shows based on ideas that members discuss and are invested in. These groups often work together to raise funds and make their own costumes and scenery. They send a delegate to an overall committee to give input on wider decisions of Murga Joven The criticize is gone in shows that are hyper produced and have lost t he human binds present in a group of friends who believe in their message and invest themselves collectively for a cause they deem worthy, though this does not also imply that Murga Joven is a utopia and has existed without its struggles of making decision s for its own regulations. Murga Joven has taken its course in creating the environment that it has. At one point it included regulations include two female participants in every murga It was later repealed because it imposed upon the creative license of groups and forced inclusion instead of allowing groups to form organically. Women have participated in Murga Joven because it was often circles of young friends that decided to come together and create a murga not especially paying mind to gender, choral sound and arrangement, but rather to friendships and the artistic interest and ideas of the group. Social and Commercial Interdependences Murga is a genre that has long represented the interests of the public and has been a resource to many, as is seen i n more recent history with Murga Joven While it has taken on the task of carrying out a public discourse on events, ideas and politics
71 and is an important medium of expression, it does not stand outside of the influences that Habermas maintains have erase d the public sphere. It is impossible for murga to function outside of the influence of politics because that is often the very subject of its rhetoric and inevitably, its involvement. The state is greatly involved since it facilitates events and provides infrastructure and some venues. Gerard Aching notes the foreign consumption on the one hand, and scrutinizing, controlling, and policing public spaces where manifesta The link between media and politics is an inextricable one as heavily influences the function and reputation of the other. The media heavily weighs in on the activities of carnival especially as popularity increases and as technology makes it available to an even larger audience. Both theater and soccer are two other social spheres that demonstrate how murga is not autonomous. Participants and artists are shared and economic demands and structure s are repeated in the three types of entertainment. Habermas explains that the public sphere disappeared because of market, media and technology developments of the modern age. This being the case, murga is inevitably subject to the contamination of other social and public spheres that weigh in on its existence and purpose. As Manrique indicated, even in the case of spontaneous, amateur neighborhood groups, these are still part of a system that hinges upon the supply and demand of the market. When asked ab out the future of murga Gabriela hen, whatever each feels 41 nterview June 26, 2012). A seasoned artist like Gmez who 41
72 has participated in twenty six carnivals recognizes the cen tral impulse and focus of commercialization. Even smaller, neighborhood groups are linked since they likely consume products sold during carnival, have to come up with costumes, interact with their neighborhoods which in turn, interact with other sources o f entertainment like soccer and theater, which in turn, are a part of media coverage. It is a chain of relationships that all modern people are entwined in. The collective imaginary, exchange of symbols and expression that we have designed has become convo luted to the point that we are dependent upon a larger scheme to voice opinions, if those opinions themselves are not influenced by the very scheme they are a part of.
73 Figure 2 1. A modern day tablado being set up. Photo courtesy of museodelcarnavald eluruguay.blogspot.com. Figure 2 2. Tablados from February 23, 1928. Shown in Mundo Uruguayo.
74 Figure 2 3. Figurines of a murga at Museo del Carnaval Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi. A B Figure 2 4. Exampl es of make up artistry. A) Display at Museo d el Carnaval B) Another example from 2000 Photos courtesy of Ana Szogi. A B Figure 2 5. Costumes and headgear displayed at the Museo del Carnaval A) A murga costumes. B) Headpieces made from foam. Photos courtesy of A na Szogi.
75 CHAPTER 3 THE INCORPORATION OF WOMEN INTO MURGA Introduction Carnival, and specifically the art of murga as chapters one and two have explained via its history and social context, breaks norms a nd inverts class and gender roles, so why has it been difficult for women to join this art, that seemingly embraces the challenging of social conventions? I found that across the span of occidental history, women have long since faced exclusion from art and music, or other expressions, using pennames or going altogether unrecognized in numerous realms, artistic or otherwise (McClary 1991: 151; interview, Mercedes Martnez July 12, 2012). In this chapter, I discuss the historic exclusion of women in murga more recent inclusion and existing structural and rhetorical contradictions of carnival that shape overarching exclusion and devaluation in intellectual and artistic matters. I then argue that through regulations and ass umed social norms, much of the free spiritedness and essence earlier carnival is now stifled and contradicted. I first provide a historical background that present day issues such as recognition of women thought during the 20 th century. First published in 1949, she recognized th e
76 high time she be permitted to take her chances in her own interest and in th e interest of murga is about that very assertion, that women too be granted agency to be creators of their destinies. In Feminine Endings, Susan McClary considers the challenges women fa ce in the atypical role of composing music. She notes, There have been many obstacles preventing women from participating fully (or, at some moments in history from participating at all ) (emphasis hers) in musical production. Most of these have been insti tutional: women have been denied the necessary training and professional connections, and they have been assumed to be incapable of sustained creative activity. The music that has been composed by women (despite all odds) has often been received in terms o f the essentialist stereotypes ascribed to women by masculine culture: it is repeatedly condemned as pretty, yet trivial or in the event that it does not conform to standards of feminine propriety as aggressive and unbefitting a woman (1991: 18 19). This is true for women in murga, as well, except that its training is not of the same formal nature as classical music, but nonetheless, women have been excluded from spaces where murga could be learned because these places were deemed unacceptable. The scruti ny over the sound a female choir produces and the more assertive role of a woman in murga have also been criticized. Protagonist roles in trained crafts, be it arts, sports, professions, trades, etc. have largely been reserved for has historically been confined to the domestic. Sterzi touches upon the patriarchic pattern found in the arts in her work, De constructing Gender in Carnival : cultural symbolism where t hey are not representers and do not possess and holy, object of artistic inspiration, and, on the other hand, ignorant, procreation) (2010: 59 60).
77 Many of these conceptions of women as secondary or non position in society is undervalued, comes from a long legacy of inherent, a ssumed structures, in which such social ordering is an accepted norm by both men and women. h ind every great man there is a woman, but always behind! Without crossing those limits 1 interview, July 20, 2012). Sterzi mentions s uch a systemic lack of autonomy when she says: women have not been defined as beings in their own right, but in terms of how they stand in relation to men for example, as emotional rather than rational, as physically weaker, or as domestically rather tha n publicly that is, secondary to men (2010: 59). found th e world anew on a human liberty ... to entertain such a pretension, one must first that women have not had a basic recognition of liberty, as independent individuals, capable of creative, innovative ideas and p roductions. In this same chapter, she focuses largely on women in the workforce and the possibilities and limitations work can bring. she regains her transcendence; in her projects she concretel y affirms her status as subject space as creators and protagonists of their histories, to represent themselves in the arts and to recognize unseen opp ressions that are within a common system and mindset, and upon acknowledging gender biases, rising above, not against that which perpetuates oppression. 1 n hombre hay una mujer, ¡pero siempre atrs!
78 Carnival a round the Turn of the XX Century Carnival of the late XIX century in Montevideo was one that was characterized by uproar of a massive, frantic, unbridled game of delirium (Alfaro 1991 a :23). Noisy, dirty and unhygienic (due to urine), projectiles of many sorts were launched: eggs, water bombs, flour, rocks, starch, nails, fruits and vegetable s, sand, paint leading to injuries (Figure 3 1 ). (1991 a : 24). Violent episodes were provoked resulting in broken bones, bruises, stabbings and even some deaths (1991 a : 26). Toward the end of the century baric practices and transition into a modern, sensible and more restrained new century (Alfaro 1998 b :14 15). The establishment of capitalist trade prompted conservative views to gain a h egemonic position in which the s tate, school and church guided a new v ision of discipline for society (1998 b : 16). A process of cultural disciplining b etween 1860 and 1890 imposed, serious behavior, obsessive control of sexuality, modesty and bodily hygiene, sacralization of work and saving, demoralization of play and pleas ure, concealment and solemnization of death and t 2 (Alfaro 1998 b : 15). corresponded to projects of rationalization, modernity, an d industrialization, which the domi nant sectors hoped to implement ... Ideologies of the civil state, nationalism and the welfare state overshadowed the Christian divi nities, rituals and cosmologies (2004:103 4). Carnival reform efforts did not lo ok to overpower reckless behavior but worked through subtle convincing tactics. Milita Alfaro bases much of her work on 2 gravedad de porte, el control obsesivo de la sexualidad, el pudor y la higiene en el cuerpo, la sacralizacin del trabajo y del ahorro, la desmoralizacin del juego y del placer, el ocultamiento y la priva
79 media archives of the time that communicated intended changes for example the effort to replace reckless practices there should be a gradual substitution of the current customs by others that might erase and even make their memory hateful 3 1991 a : 43). Changes were made progressively by restricting the hours of the day that carnival could be celebrated, then throwing only clean water and only things such as confetti and flowers, for example. The wearing of costumes was encouraged because as more people wore fantastic, elaborate outfits this di ssuaded the throwing of water costumes, more than the police, are what will contribute to a suppression of an ugl y as well as grotesque practice 4 (Alfaro 1991 a carnival was started, which also helped to contain disorder (Alfaro 1991 a : 35). Still practiced today, it involves the symbolic putting to r est of carnival until the next year through parodies involving coffins ( Figures 3 2 Figure 3 3 ) Other efforts to bring organization included planning of dances and parades and creating stages for performances. In this way, the public shifted from being p articipants to spectators. Gus barbaric Carnival was modernized, that is, mollified and sterilized, around 1870. It was transformed into a straitjacketed affair, a domesticated and decorous, even gallant spectacle, ultimately, articipatory, festive Carnival ... [and begins] a theatricalized Carnival that evokes all egorical carriages [and] queens 3 4 los disfraces, ms que la polica, son los que han de co ntribuir a la supre sin de una prctica tan fea
80 lities compatible with the logic of This could be looked at as weakening of the spirit of a carnival previously known for spontaneous, massive participation, but can also be interpreted as a c hange in how carnival was/is e the lived carnival gave way slowly to a carnival that was sung, danced and symbolically spoken, where the inversion of the world and all the symbolism of play was less about doing and each time m ore about saying (and abou t listening to what others say) 5 ( emphasis hers ) (1991 a : 63). Turning carnival into a show based celebration was the antidote to the unrestrained war of eggs and water that authorities struggled to contain (1998: 130). This gave r ise to many street performance arts such as murga that were placed on outdoor stages. Women and Socio political Power Structures The pre capitalist era during the first half of the XIX century afforded women a central role in carnival as purveyors of sens uality and provocativeness, though they were also subject to the assaults of eggs, other projectiles and harassment of being fondled, tripped or having clothes ripped ( Alfaro 1991 a : 31 32). The rise of capitalism propagated interests of control and order t hat would reap added safety, but a lso restraint for women. in all patriarchal regimes and fundamentally in capitalist societies where the female body figures as a paramount challenge for the prolongation of property and power, the ide a of woman has always carried an 5 el carnaval vivido dar paso paulatinamente a un carnaval cantado, bailado y significativamente hablado donde la inversin del mundo y toda la simbologa de la fiesta pasa cada vez menos por hacer y cada vez ms por decir
81 ambivalent dimension that combines images of submissi on and disorder 6 She further quo the woman must be under submission because she represents and extraordinary potential for so cial disorder 7 (1998 b :134). It is these social precepts and capitalistic dogmas of hierarch power structures that carnival McClary explains the parallel between dominant socio political st ructures with that of the control of women when she states that: The more qualities such as rationality, power and domination are fused onto models of the erotic, the more the standardized experience of the erotic comes into line with discursive practices associated with imperialism, capitalist expansion, and scientific risk various terrains upon one another has produced a world rife with phallic posturing. And music and literature do not simply reflect that world; they help to c reate and transmit it by reinforcing it as pleasura ble ( ... inevitable, as universal) (1991:127). era, to gain land and resources, and the consequential need to cont rol inhabitants and manpower that would allow access to said gains. This paradigm was carried over not only as a business model, but also as a social model in which the powerful determined the behaviors, fates and possibilities for those beneath them. The woman, bereft of the exploited physically and emotionally. McClary then reiterates that the artistic world has men as the producers of most works, in visual and performance arts. The development of a modern economic 6 en todo rgimen patriarcal y fundamentalmente en las sociedades capitalistas donde el cuerpo femenino configura un desafo primordial para la prolongacin de la propiedad y del poder, la idea de mujer ha sido portadora, desde siempre, de una dimensin ambivalente que combina imgenes de 7
82 on this. decen t woman should laughing loudly and having her clothing sit properly when she sits down (Alfaro 1998 b : 135). A woman was to be tender, pure, innocent and virtuous and not be in contact with 870 participated in comparsas (groups that paraded with drummers) and masquerades, but that was later changed to allo w women on ly on floats so that interaction with men would be more limited (1998 b : 129, 136 137). It is notable that black comparsas still included women and lower class women still paraded in the streets as well, in other words, those who were on the margi ns of society deemed proper or acceptable participation. The exclusion of women from mu rga is of social importance because this art has and become part of national identity. It is significant that women have not been the protagonists of said social expres sion, with spare exceptions, until recently because this attests to the lack of inclusion in the reflection and construction of the collective conscious. The ramifications of restrictive social attitudes towards women are still evident today in having a mi nority of female government leadership, to give one example. T he fact that the inception of murga
83 behavior perhaps indicates why women were not involved from the start. It has taken a century for changes to come a bout that would include women. Machista mentalities are not limited to men, the attitude that women do not belong in murga or positions of power is one that many women also maintain. Female murgas do not have the same characteristic sound or appearance tha t most are accustomed to, which has led to biases, but as Gabriela Gmez expressed in an interview, it is one thing to have a preference or opinion and it is another to say women should not or cannot perform murga (interview, June 26, 2012) Carnival carri es many contradictions as it is known as an uncontrolled celebration for all, but is bound to structures intended to bring order. Longest carnival because th e season begins in January and ends in March sometimes further lengthened if there are rainy days (Sans 2008: 33; Lamolle 2005:10; Kirschstein 2007: 20). This prolonged period of ordered performance is a contrast to the three days of unrestrained celebrat ing with streets flooded with people that once was and is still in some places. Natalie the mere length of the celebrations certainly parades, dan cing in the street and unruly behavior, but the idea of a fleeting three days of relentless, mass partying are no longer the structure of the celebration. Some say it is more like a music and theater festival, street theater or combine the two Carni val Theater (Sans 2008: 31; Kirs chstein 2007: 13). In her description of murga and carnival Ann Marie sts
84 carnival, 8 (interview, July 20, 2012) Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian philosopher and literary critic known for his interpretations on carnival characterized the festival as a locus of undominated discourse and uninhibited speech and an absence of false pretenses where top and bottom change places. Functions of eating, drinking, fornication, defec ation were emphasized because they are the level at which we are all alike, where status is the XIX century, establishment of a capitalist system and social agendas to imitate Europe, subdue and civilize society put an end to unregulated revelry. carni val celebrat who could deny that toda marvelous? ... 9 5). refers more to a loss of certain liberties and inversions), the message seems to be that control and safety should be priorities. In recalling past times, the article says people 10 ... with loaned liberties. The guarantor was Momo 11 8 osa organizada, es un festival de teatro musical que dura cuarenta das. Le 9 ogreso, a pesar de todo. 10 Footnote 16 on pg.27 explains Momo 11
85 divorce float that was set fire, and a rock thrown at an anti clerical float, along with groups b eing sent only protests coming from those who want to go to bed before two i The trade offs of less liberty and more controls diminished past carnival practices. In neighboring Buenos Aires, carnival was all about reduced to inexistent (McCleary concerns for safety and health led to various prohibitions and a simultaneous growth of carnival in neighboring Montevideo as a tourist attraction (507). The Argentine elite and or activities and banning carnival paraphernalia. Milita Alfaro comments about the experience of the past and that tablados nobody turned out the lights implying that the party longer a general celebration, What is left in c ... [ but] you have to rehearse a lot, work a lot. 12 show s the mentality of a professionalized arena ( interview, July 20, 2012). what one understands as carnival [today ] is way too neat and organized ... a certain spontaneity 13 rview, July 20, 2012). 12 co mn es que es al aire libre pero] hay que ensayar mucho, trabajar mucho. Hay mucha competencia 13 callejero y que conserva todava una cierta cosa de espontanei
86 Daniel Vidart makes the case that carnival is no longer alive in Uruguay. In his book Espritu del carnaval ( The Spirit of Carnival ), he Carniva l has died: since a century ago ... but ... it makes do to subsist, to make a raft with what remains of the shipwreck and continue na vigating toward unknown islands ... We are left without the irrational explosions of past wild abandon, but we have inaugurated others. We always need escapes, back doors 14 (1997: 125 6). Vidart laments the loss and explains that carnival practices are different from those at the turn of the XX century and that sex or washed out practices of Buddhism, yoga, macumba etc. As much as the nature of participation has changed, there is a central ideology that remains in the carnival has made it unreasonable for there to be unc ontrolled, continuous partying, but the cathartic element persists to a degree, as informants shared that carnival brings on something indescribable, magical, not to mention, drinking is an activity still closely tied to this celebration and that as in man y places, people enjoy an excuse to celebrate. Masking and Costumes Although the general public no longer wears masks and costumes in the streets, as was the case in earlier Uruguayan carnival practice, face paint and costumes of many imaginative dimensio ns and colors are a central visual aspect of murga. While face paint is not a mask, it serves a similar function in murga because the entire head 14 los estallidos irracionales del antiguo desenfreno pero hemos inaugurado otros. Siempre necesitamos
87 and neck is painted, hair is sometimes colored and most groups wear large, elaborate hats. So, I consider this typically completely covered, along with the rest of their body. At first glance, murguistas may have a clown like appearance, which harkens back to carnival characters that have long been portra accomplish many tasks. Costumes create both visibility, by drawing attention, and invisibility, through anonymity. Gerard Aching sees this as a be acknowledged in public spaces, to make oneself v isible ... to transform power women, because it is one more element through which murga reclaims power for the unseen. Temporary physical transformation can allow for a suspension of class, race or gender (depending on the nature of the suit). Murga costumes are sometimes criticized as being boxy and not feminine. Many costumes do not cater to the feminine form and some say that more attention should be given to the feminine aesthetic. On the other hand, an androgynous appearance, in which sex is not immediately visible through dress, may help to avoid the sexualization of the female body. In any case, use of costumes and masking help to reflect on past conditions, characters or people by that, Carnival [functions] as a moment for the production of values, the affirmation and experience of human rights, the projection of a future in which the farce becomes sociopolitical reality; values, claims, and projections made by persons who otherwise would not be considered valid interlocutors or contributors outside of the artistic space of Carnival, without Carnival becomes a space where they
88 [ murguistas ] have agency, and where their humanity, dignity, sanity, and voice are restored. The relationship between bodies, masks and vestments permits a se ries of symbolic and dramatic operations unavailable in everyday life, through which incapacitated bodies acquire the ability to (2004: 139 140). The use of costumes asserts presence and an opportunity for performer and viewer to be transported outside of the quotidian. Russell Foote, whose work is on carnival in the Caribbean, makes similar remarks as Remedi concerning self affirmation and future projection through the wearing of costumes, thereby reifying the human expe Carnival tells the world who we are, what we think about o urselves and where we are going ... we wear masks in order to unmask issues, Murguistas may com e in and out of character during their show, shifting from the imaginary to the real, transcending the everyday to make room for the absurd and exaggerated. Beyond costumes, Remedi further comments on the resource of acting and mimicry and its potential fo r those who are marginalized: free, magical, or imaginary space where almost anything is possible and where nonpersons, those denied the status of full personhood, can imagine and experience 39). Even those who do not stand at the margins of society are able to question their own place, influence and position through art and drama. It should not be an expectation that those who have fewer resources and life chances to be solely responsible for their own advancement and self actualization. It is just as important for the privileged to gain consciousness of their status in relation to others. Gerard Aching highlights this point in saying, the mask does not concea l the i deological ... masking practices negotiate degrees of
89 recognition, misrecognition, and non recognition between masked subjects and viewing subjects (emphasis his) whereby masks serve not only the participant, but also the observer to conside r various levels of self understanding, reality and unreality ( 2002: 4 5). In the musical Murga Madre s caras ... C aretas prods at the complexity of the human experience that is inherent to all people and that everyone has their Murga is a genre that uses masking not just with appearance, but also through language, as was in the dictatorship. Hyper regulation and Artistic Tradition In the case of the official carnival there are many regulations in place and also a concern amongst some for a preservation of tradition. Younger groups, especially, sometimes try to innovate and push artistic limits, which is not always welcome. Ann Marie Almada explains this frustration: What happens here in Urugua y with carnival is a huge contradiction because carnival and here that is completely regulated. It has rules all over. It happens that if one year you, as a group, do something kind of weird, the next year it gets almost a lie that this is carnival Carnival perhaps exists in the neighborhood groups, in neighbors organize 15 (interview, July 20, 2012) 15 Lo que sucede ac en Uruguay con el carnaval es una gran c ontradiccin porque el carnaval ... es justamen te salirse de las reglas no? ... En todo el mundo y ac eso est totalmente reglamentado. Eso tiene reglas por todos lados. Pasa que si un ao vos, como conjunto, hacs una cosa medio rara, al ao siguiente eso se reglamenta para que no pase, o hasta que pase, pero hasta tal punto. Se va cambiando
90 Murga is supposedly a creative and critical of oppressive forces, but is restricted in its form by rules that serve as normative parameters within which to c ompete. The carnival in turn, is oppressive to those who come up with outlier ideas. For example, originally, only the three traditional percussion instruments were allowed: base drum, snare drum and cymbals, until groups challenge d this and it was worked into regulation that other instruments could be allowed. In 1982 a group called Antimurga BCG their counter force evident even in their name, broke many norms through their interaction with audiences, style of jokes and costumes. This was met with resistance, even though the group was immensely popular. Their shows were sabotaged and they placed last six years in a row (Kirschstein 335 336). This is counter intuitive since murga is said to be a reflection of the people and somethi ng for the people, but there is often a discrepancy between groups which are popular and who actually wins. In speaking with Gustavo Diverso, an original member of Antimurga BCG and author of two books on murga and carnival he commented, The objective of murga that win ...the winner is a murga which is widely accepted by everyone and has some innovatio n, which will surely be adopted ... later 16 ( interview, June 20, 2012) el reglamento to dos los aos para generar toda una estructura. Entonces es como, casi una mentira que esto sea un carnaval. El carnval se da, de pronto, en los corsos barriales, en ciertas cosas que no tienen publicidad y que las organizan los vecinos. 16 bjetivo de es el objetivo que se plantea: o vamos a innovar o vamos a ganar el premio?...gana una murga que es plenamente ac eptada por todo el mundo y
91 He also mentioned how change is slow and it can take two or three years for a new regulation t o be adopted. A common complaint is that the same acts tend to win because they develop formulas that are widely agreeable and those simply get s for the 2013 carnival the all female group, Cero Bola did not make the cut. A fan, Rossina di Mat tias commented afterward on Jimena laughing at the same jok es decade after decade, maintain the structures boring, tiring and disgusting 17 ( facebook post, November 22, 2012). Guillermo Lamolle, murga director and author of two books on the subject touches on jokes by different groups in the same carnival is worse ... or by the same group in different carnivals tablado programs 18 (1998: 64). He further expands on the differences that arise due to budgets and that wealthier groups have advantages, though other ti mes not (1998: 65 67). In their 2012 show, Queso Magro sings about the clichs of murga groups by using commercial that used murga music to advertise a newspaper. They alte r the lyrics to 17 dejan avanzar, es ms cmodo seguir riendo los mismo s chistes dcada tras dcada, mantener las estructuras claras, no vaya a ser cosa que se les mueva un poco el piso y se den cuenta de que estn 18 oblemas de] la falta de creatividad, la repeticin de los mismos chistes permanente de los mismos cinco o seis conjuntos en las programaciones de los tabl
92 Uruguay) artist and move people with my songs, that are kind of similar to all the ones there already are 19 (2012 Queso Magro 21:30). They parody thi s song to laugh at the commercial tendencies and repetitive material of murga when the original song is about the noble nature of the newspaper salesman who depends on his voice for his livelihood, is the voice of the people, and sings from his heart. Wom Murga The slogan that murga creatively expressed reflections of society by way of this genre. However, there are many groups that are excluded from murga to go so far as to claim that all are included. Kirschstein sheds light on what appears to be a contradiction by the people denoting the urban working class, the oppressed class, the ru some interpretations (2007: 274 275). In this regard, murga speaks to a specific the working class and marginalized sectors of soci ety were the most represented by murga be the most prevalent class involved today ( interview, a shift in participation in large part because of th e dictatorship. While it can be argued that murga is the voice of a particular social class, it is still counter to its philosophy that women be excluded. A 2010 statistic indicates that there are ninety three men to every one hundred wo men in Uruguay ( UNdata ). In this regard, murga presents a limited and possibly erroneous reflection of society. Along with the 19
93 emale group called Las Miscelaneas (The Miscellanies, but in feminine form) was mentioned to have There was a discrepancy of answers as to when and if women had participated, but past groups were named, though with little historic information or literature to refer to, if any. There have been a handful of women such as Gabriela Gmez and Mnica Santos who have been participating since the have forged their own paths and have had to ear n their places. Lopetegui & Lannert cite another fem ale group called La Siempre Libre (Always Free, af ter a tampon brand) (1994: 4). Milita Alfaro cited a female murga in an interview, Rumbo al Infierno (Direction to Hell), but with no additional informati on. I found a few other groups via internet search Murga Fulana de tal ( Murga feminine form), Sofi Jones, murga sinfnica (Sophie Jones, a murga which includes symphonic instruments) which is in Murga Joven Se arm la gorda (The Big L ady is Done Up or Now the Big one is Ready 20 ), and Murga Modestia Aparte ( Murga Modesty Aside). The last two are based out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The two most famous and current examples of professional female murgas in Montevideo are La Bolilla que Fa ltaba (The Missing Ball) and Cero Bola but also an expression for not paying mind to someone or something) because they have both competed in the official carnival The first is an all female choir with male perc ussionists and the second is the only all female group to have entered the contest. Some argue that women have always been a part of carnival in Uruguay, but in other kinds of roles or other genres. For instance, women have often worked on 20 The title of this murga does not have a good direct translation in English because the phrase is ambiguous.
94 costumes, make up scenery or other supportive, behind the scenes tasks, subordinate tasks. I asked Gustavo Diverso why women have been in other carnival genres and not murga related to power. are criticizing it in some way ... the categories that have adapted more to having women are precis ely the ones not based on humor ... which has to do wi society 21 ( interview June 20, 2012). It is precisely this point about women not having a voice which is contradicting on the part of murga and carnival a space that should be reserved for breaking social restrictions and norms and freely voicing opinions, and the source of my queries as to how this change has come about. Jimena carnival always, but in a way that showed off her body to me n. You understand? As a dancer, a showgir l, naked, not taking up her voice, not taking up her voice 22 interview July 11, 2012). McClary speaks of women lacking not only the place but training in rhetoric during the Renaissance. rhetoric in the mouth of a woman was understood as a different phe nomenon from that issuing from a man. A man skilled in oratory was rhetoric was usually understood as seduction, as a manifestation not of intellectual bot of sexual power. So pervasiv e were the constraints upon feminine utterances in the public sphere that even those few women who exercised political power had to cultivate images that made their speech Medici i dentified herself in the official iconography as Artemis. In essence, 21 precisamente las que no se b asan en el humor. ..que tiene que ver con la posicin de la mujer en la 22 Enteds? Como bailarina, como vedette, en bolas, no tomando la voz, no t
95 both women had to disavow or elaborately redefine their sexualities in order to secure credibility and voice (1991: 38). Although the Renaissance period is two to five hundred years remo ved from the activities of women in murga similar stigmas exist and women are often labeled or criticized in ways men are not once they assume positions of power. Gabriela Gmez maintains the point that it is difficult to accept women in murga : lot of people who still think that carnival is not for women, or for murga ... for carnival yes, if she is a dancer ... though even that is always questioned, if dancers are like, women exhibiting their bodies ? happens is that [in murga ] she is only put in t he middle as the highest voice and women are not sought ... ... at this po int in my ... it is established not to put women ... you would th ink they would be more advanced ... wo man 23 ( interview, June 26, 2012). Once women did manage to enter the official carnival the media did not always respond kindly or at all La Bolilla que Faltaba was first to enter in 1999 and Cero Bola in 2012. What was different of the two was that Cero Bola actively mentioned that they were the first all female group in the competition on a regular basis and they also had content that directly dealt with the feminine experience. For example, in 2007 their y dressed as brides and the theme de las ueens and exposed societal lies. Much of the tension about women participating rose in 2012 when radio and newspaper reports began questioning if women could even comprise a murga after 23 hay muchas personas que siguen pensando que la mujer no es para el carnaval, para la a siempre es como la mujer que exhibe su cuerpo ? pasa es que slo la ponen en el medio como
96 attention was drawn to the fact that this was the first all female gro up. Was this even considered murga ? Jimena Mrquez shared what it was like to hear such comments in the media: to commenting on the show or the this was mur ga or not? Strange, because a female murga already existed, cymbals, a snare drum, a choral director, a choir, sparse humor, social criticism, singing, therefore, we are a murga murga it is out of machi women, if not, you wou 24 interview July 11, 2012). have a different quality, force and projection. Gabriela Gmez, director of La Bolilla que Faltaba validity within the genre: murga murga murga ... murga is truly ridiculous, retrograde and neo hink he thought a single second ... what he was saying 25 ( interview, June 26, 2012). 24 no llegaron a ni s debate de si era una murga esto o no? Extrao, porque ya exista una murga de mujeres, ante de cual nunca se haba generado este debate cul fue la tecla? Ni lo s, pero algo redoblante, director coral, un coro, escaso humor, crtica social, cantando, por ende, somos una murga. 25 ar ue est formada por mujeres es un verdadero
97 Murga is kn own for a distinct nasal, powerful sound that was adopted from the paperboys of the earlier part of the XX century, a timbre that an all female group does not produce in the same way that a male group does. This prompted a suggestion that women should have their own category to c ompete in, to which Mrquez jokingly responded and implied further ostracizing women and was another indicator of people who are set in their ways being unw illing and unyielding to change for the sake of following tradition and adhering to a patriarchic system. murgas was that only female audiences would identify with what women on stage were saying. For so long, lyrics have almost solely been written and performed by men and yet, many still contest the entrance of women. Even if this were the case, there could be shows more aimed at women, the same way male performances have been more aimed at men. Merced es Martnez explains that it is difficult for men to relinquish part of their space as protagonists ( interview July 12, 2012). Jimena Mrquez remarked on this subject that, d no one has ever said anything. In the end, one speaks of who he or she is. 26 interview, July 11, 2012). Gmez makes the strong point tha from a male murga is much only men identify wit h 27 ( interview June 26, 2012). She also points out the double standards about women disparate, es retrogrado y es neo 26 los hombres siempre tuvieron la palabra y tambin hablaron de cosas de hombres y nadie nunca dijo n ada. Al cabo, uno habla de lo que es 27 si vamos a desglosar un texto de una murga de hombres, muy probable que encontremos tambin
98 being looked down up for making obscene jokes that men make with no disapproval placed on them. Ann Marie as well as other informants shared that they were a part of makin g changes to lyrics that had strong male perspectives, though this sometimes brought con tention and heavy disagreements: audience is women. Why are we going to sing something that is only going to be for m en? On ly men are going to laugh ... and women wi ll feel embarrassed or offended 28 (interview, July 20, 2012) This was in regard to material that dealt with male masturbation. These kinds of small triumphs of changing lyrics may over time, help to generat e consideration and better gender equality. In his ethnographic recordings of the mid twentieth century 29 Carvalho Neto noted exaggerated portrayals of women in murga Although there are growing sensitivi ti es and improvement on the nature of jokes that ar e in bad taste, Gabriela is it like that? Or why is the mother in law always ugly ... mean one. The woman is always fat and they laugh at her being fat ... when they put [portray] a woman they totally mistreat her ... they dress like a 30 (interview, June 26, 2012). Just as Jimena Mrquez pointed ou t that women have not been ones to have a voice, Mercedes 28 a estar cantando 29 [ (1967: 47). 30 destratan tota r racha, como que eso es la gracia.
99 with a belly and a hair roller ... tha t paints a grot esque picture, and gives the image of a woman 31 ( interview, July 12, 2012). Valeria Sterzi discusses the reductive roles women the cultural representations of a wom an as a whore to a woman as an angel has been paralleled by the development of this process, that is the pursuit of rationality and consequentially the Mariana Luca argues that sexualization can be used as a res ource, If the intention is to provoke, it hits the nail on the head, if they obje ctify us, ... it is about humanizing women and that means that she is sexed and that she has instincts. The seed of patriarchy and machismo says that she should be cultured, pretty an d refined ... [but] in bed be completely vulgar ... 32 ( interview, July 13, 2012). Women also deserv e freedom to express themselves sexually and be acknowledged as the efforts to subdue and dictate lady like manners in the early XXth century) women face repression in where do we put it? 33 and that when July 13, 2012). Murga presents the possibility of voicing anger and contributing to a 31 una imagen de la mujer 32 Si la intencin es provocar, da en el clavo, si nos cos ifican, entonces vamos a vestirnos sexy es] humanizar a la mujer y eso significa que es sexuada y que tiene instintos. La semilla del patriarcado y el es a imagen da la virgen Mara la inmaculada concepcin, como la madre que no siente placer. 33 Nosotras manejamos un montn de ira muy grande y dnde la ponemos? No podemos putear a nadie, no podemos pegarle a nadie.
100 change in attitudes towards women, those that prescribe and control their behavior, discriminatory content, as cited in chapter one, including exaggerated, negative views of women. Recognition of Women and Decision Making Power There is a frustration that when women finally do manage to participate and to be seen there is a lack of recognition. Ann Marie Alm ada mentioned a time when a well known carnavalero once came up to her and a few members (who were male) from her murga at a festival and was complementing them and also suggesting that he could make improvements, beginning by removing the women because th helps makes costumes and held the group together through challenging moments, Ann e thing, practically i n my face ... to not feel recognized simply because someone 34 interview July 20, 2012). As a director, Gabriela Gmez has also felt a lack of recognition for her work and authority as a director. There have been times t hat she has directed and not been that she earned that place by learning from them ( i nterview June 26, 2012). Gmez mentioned that she sees herself as a director, but is seldom called to serve that role. 34 econozcan, simplemente porque ven, tu g
101 Mercedes Martnez notes that women have to go above and beyond to prove gained have been difficult [to gain] and they have passed tests much more difficult than males [to get there]. You have to have the same strength in your arm to play the d rum ... the same bellow of air ... alluding to physical d ist resses as if it were a sport 35 ( interview, July 12, 2012). women have to show more talent t h an men to have entry, in every discipline 36 ( interview, June 22, 2012). Since there is a bias towards the sound of a female group, there is added pressure to However, since murga mu rga was said to not sound very is contradictory to the original sound of mu rga and there is a steep competition slope when some groups have existed for over a century. Each group develops their own sound and style, but as with other changes, it is difficult to accept what is new or different. While it is true that women have ind eed gained much ground in joining a cultural practice that is emblematic and significant to collective and national identity, finally having input in an art that critiques and represents, women are still excluded from the 35 conseguido han sido duros y pasando por pruebas mucho ms difciles que las del v arn. Tens que 36 po nen a gente que no sabe nada, pero si es mujer, no se le perdona
102 business dealings that dictate pow er and financial viability for professional groups For example, m ore than one informant shared that unfair dealings were occurring within DAECPU, but also with businesses who hire murgas to perform, such as on tablados Pia Bava of Cero Bola said t know much about what goes on, but I know that the people in t want women in carnival 37 ( interview, July 4, 2012). As Mercedes Martnez points out, the business world of murga is [anot her separate world], which genera lly organize s the commerci al circuit of carni val ... women are not w elcome and no i cally incorrect discourse. anywhere in these commercial circles 38 interview, July 12, 2012). The bias seems to be not towards mu rgas made up of women alone, but more broadly, newer, more daring groups that step outside of tradition and challenge the parameters of the genre. Virginia sawed off! 39 21, 2012). In the earlier example of Antimurga BCG this Mercedes Martnez points out how La Bollila que Faltaba in the second round of the competition were given the worst placements on the schedule, doing sound check at five in the morning and performing at two in the afternoon, when there would be a much murga came out first or last! And who are you going t o complain to? lost! ... tter 37 no s mucho de lo que pasa, pero s que hay quienes Mandan y no quieren que la mujer se meta en el carnaval 38 el mundo empresarial de la murga es otro, quien organiza en general, el circuito comercial del mujer no tiene cabida en estos crculos empresariales 39
103 just because we were women 40 ( interview July 12, 2012). Ann Marie recounts that her murga La Mojigata (which has had one to three women) faced problems the year they entered the official carnival in paying the $4,000 entry fee. Other groups had received financing that they did not, so they had to seek out their own source for a loan. Similarly, Jimena Mrquez explain s the difficulties that Cero Bola faced: we know that in carnival there is a system of pres sures and certain, quote, mafia ... where they come from, but w e had obstacles ... two steps, an obstacle ... to sign up ... with the show ... to be on a certain stage, to be on tablados were pretty locked out ... we als ... we t ook what there was, so to speak ... it was not too transparent 41 ( interview J uly 11, 2012). murga the values of certain people that participate in carni val is something kind of mafia like ... Peo ple who were hired by bookies ... Those people who have to be paid because otherwise they break your stuff at night. These things are weighty and have left a certain mark even though it s been softened 42 (interview, July 20, 2012). Long time carn i val fol lowers, Miguel and Graciela Fernndez said, ... Yes, it s like the world of bets ... hand ... murga and DAECPU are controlled by a certain cir cle ... 40 casualid ad que la nica murga de mujeres sala primera o ltima! Y a quin te vas a quejar? Fue un sorteo, ¡qu pena que perdiste!...No nos quejamos porque si no, iban a decir que queramos algo 41 sabemos que en carnaval hay un sistema 42 contratada por los c todo. Creo que son cosas que pesan y que han dejado cierta marca aunque se ha suavizado
104 e same ones since thirty years ... 43 ( interview, July 18, 2012). These types of underhanded dealings mak e it difficult for any newcomer to gain clout or power because the system is already inherently closed, secretive and corrupt. In speaking of the antiquated, male dominated business dealing of carnival Ann Marie Almada explained the difficulty of the matt er and later posited that having a separate carnival organization would be ideal: s of pow er are majority occupied by men ... still, to gain those positions [DAECPU], one has to be a [ murga ] owner and owners tend to be men ... change comes from farther outside of the organization. First, there have to be women who want to be head s of groups 44 (interview, July 20, 2012). She cites Murga Joven (disc ussed in chapter two) as a model of better leadership practices. Ann Marie said it was unfortunate to think of it as waiting for some people to be gone, but in some ways, it is a matter of waiting for times to change on their own. Others mentioned this ver time is up. Emlia Daz also shared in this idea that there should be a parallel carnival to the official one and once this was voiced, there was a phone call made asking for her to be fired. 43 esto es ve y el qu e no se ve 44 es otro lugar ms donde se reproducen cosas que se ven en el resto de la sociedad. Es un lugar de puestos, uno tiene que ser un dueo y lo
105 Benefits Murga participation in murga but why have women been excluded? Historic explanation s suggest that the establishment of a capitalist socie ty prompted more control, namely, of first half of the XX century was a period of prosperity in Uruguay that emphasized values of purity and containment for women as a sym bol of order and progress. Murga began as a tradition for lower class men, especially those working in the newspaper It was not an environment that women were welcome unpolished, associated with drinking and far from an acceptable past time for women. A s Milita Alfaro also mentions murga w h ere women and young ladies went and it was looked down upon that women should go see that type of show 45 (interview, July 20, 2012). As mentioned in chapter one, it was a disreputable environment for women because of ffiliation with prostitution and i llegal business ventures. Carnival often impl ies being out of the house for many hours rehearsing and having late night performances, another point that did not take well to women being included. A broader patriarchic power structure, as seen in the organizational workings of DAECPU, that spans thro ughout society, has made it difficult for women to step outside of previously designated activities. Even in sports, it is only in recent history that women have started to play soccer, by far the most popular sport in Uruguay. It is important to 45 la murga va al lmite de lo obsceno y ah van mujeres y seoritas y se vea mal que las mujeres fueran a ve
106 recall th at the issue of women breaking out of traditional roles has not been just that women sometimes helped to enforce machista attitudes by for example, believing that women shou ld not hold leadership positions or participate in murga Moreover, as in most shifts of social conventions, change takes time to accept and there is usually fear or sense of threat on the part of a dominating group that something may be lost if power rela tions are changed, an aversion to potential loss of a norm that is comfortable and familiar. I wanted to k could mean for individuals and for society more broadly Is it empowering for women? Would this cause more people to quest ion male female power relations more broadly? Gustavo Diverso responded that the changes brought by including women gives broader possibilities for choral arrangements, enriching the genre, and also a wider representation for more people to be able to go t o a tablado and feel identified by what a murga says ( interview June 20, 2012). It is evident that including a feminine perspective will help murga be more inclusive in its messages. It also creates a greater sensitivity for not carrying a rhetoric that i s hostile towards women or other groups. Several female informants said they were a part of contesting and changing content that would be insensitive to women. Women who perform in murga are already daring to do something different than what has been done, perhaps this is why Gabriela Gmez and Ann Marie Almada both said that women are riskier with m I think women have touched o talk about concerning gender 46 46 creo que la mujer se anim a tocar temas que los hombres no se animan a tocar de gnero
107 Gmez June 26, 2012). Women who participate in murga are liberal enough to join to begin with and maybe more likely and brazen enough to speak out on lesser recurred topics. Mercedes Mart nez shared the moving experience of performing for women at a 47 for 48 place of me, to that there was a consciousness o that certain women held the power of carrying a messag e ( interview July 12, 2012). observation of this they would stay thinking at the t ablado, Look at the liberty t 49 ( interview, July 21, 2012). When asked about public reception of their show, Jimena Mrquez mentioned that they hear ... they even 50 [emphasis mine] since their show directly spoke on issues from a feminine perspective (interview, July 12, 2012) Even in the case of La Bolilla que Faltaba which does not ascribe to a philosophy that speaks for or about women, the fact that they are visible as women on a national st age at least sends the message that it is possible for women to occupy such a role and serve as role models to other women and girls who might want to take up their interests and passions. 47 48 49 lo que dicen ellas. Mir la libertad que tienen ellas en 50 ... an hablaron por m
108 Many respondents, male and female, talked about the collaborative and group effort being a central draw to participating in murga belonging to a group and accomplishing something together, especially since most groups begin from circles of friends. Murga provides another venue for women to be included in a social disco urse and gain strength from being part of a group that digests ideas to create social critique, give exposure to lesser explored topics and feel self identification. The power of having a message before an audience creates the opportunity to highlight issu es that are deemed important, a decision making and influencing power that women have not been able to exercise in the past. Gabriela Gmez described murga as a love and passion, but als interview June 26, 2012). Murga has a therap e utic value as a release, in some of the same way s othe r hobbies do but moreover, it encourages socialization, expression and solidarity. As murga writers and performers, women are able to be part of history in ways that have previously been denied and en ter a shared national and social imaginary. Although carnival in Uruguay carries many contradictions in its structure and form and exclusion of subaltern groups, it is nonetheless a tradition which has rich potential for expression and has long adjusted it self to societal changes, so there is hope that in time, a genre such as murga may become more inclusive of ideas and people that rest outside of the majority understanding of its tradition as it has long spoken for the altern and marginalized.
109 A B C Figure 3 1. Ad vertisements for Perfume Launchers from Mundo Uruguayo A) Jan 6, Jan 20, 1938. C) Feb
110 Figure 3 2 represented by a youth. Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi. Figure 3 3 ing Momo is carried. Photo courtesy of Ana Szogi.
111 CHAPTER 4 MURGA Introduction Many changes have taken place that have led to an inclusion of women in murga murga is perhaps at its inception ( interview, groups are still experimenting with and finding their sound, as it stands outside of the tradition. Historic periods and social and political clima tes have influenced murga activity and there is much that has progressed for women to generate interest and assert themselves to participate in this popular art. For example, there are more women than men in college in Uruguay according to a UN data report between 2005 2010 (data.un.org). Murga Joven as countless informants and written sources confirmed, was a strong and also natural impulse towards including women. Even so, some informants felt that changes were slow in the making. 2012 was a trailblazing year that brought the first all female murga, Cero Bola to the official competition. However, in 2013, neither Cero Bola nor La Bolilla que Faltaba will compete. Cero Bola did not pass the general audition and La Bolilla did not audition. However, the la st Murga Joven competition, Sofi Jones the symphonic murga that has a female choir placed amongst murgas. The more women and girls are seen on stage, the more others will perhaps be inspired to do the same and the more it becomes normalized to see women performing. The intention of this chapter is to discuss some of the hindering and enabling murga pres ent conclusive
112 thoughts and findings from this study, some of its limitations and consider possibilities for future studies Feminism (Mis)understood A surprising difficulty I found during my field work was that, of the informants who mentioned or discuss ed feminism (about six), only one had a clear understanding of it. There were strong misconceptions that feminism is anti men or stands against men, when in fact, feminism seeks equal rights among men and women and is pro equality. Feminism tends to focus two sexes, women have been underpaid, unrecognized, marginalized, mistreated or power, identity and dignity, it is also just as true that men must be a part of these shifts and also renegotiate their roles in relation to women. Also, feminism does not negate that men too, face discrimination and inequalities based on sex and gender. Feminism by no means is solely focused on or just about women, but rather, is about the collaborative efforts that can be made so that women can be valued equally to men in all realms: as professionals, as spouses, as artists, as patients, as athletes etc. Mercedes Martnez discussed a ttitudes that have turned against feminism and the problem this presents because she cautioned, those who think they do not have an ideology are really taking on the ideology that another imposes, so it is important to urther explained: because today there is a tendency to have to ... there is a certain need to not look like a social renegade that fights to vindi Yeah girl, but the weight of culture is also going to fall on your head, you better assume it, understand it and take the step to recognize that the first women in theater had to dress as men, f em ale scientists used male
113 pseudonyms for their projects to be accepted by universities. There is a to be in that scenario 1 ( interview, July 12, 2012). There is a tendency to want to ignore that there are differences made because it is not confrontational, but having feministic ideas does not innately imply aggression either. What was curious about the case of Cero Bola is that the group did take up a consciousness about the fact that it was an all female group, the first to accomplish competing in the official competition, but did not claim a feminist outlook. They spoke act that most murga has been solely from a male view and sung about topics like domestic violence, but when asked about feminism, the agreed response was that they did not stand behind any particular philosophies. In a group inter view, these were their wor we do not emblemi ze ourselves as pro [feminist]. associate ourselves with a cause 2 interview, ace, we do it without even proposing it by standing twenty women on a stage, but not as part of an explicit message ... the message is there 3 interview, Jimena Mrquez July 11, 2012). There is a fear or 1 los tienen que asumir [los problemas de gnero] aunque les cueste y les duela porque hoy por hoy hay una necesida vos tambin te va a caer el peso de la cultura sobre la cabeza, m s vale que lo asumas, que lo entiendas y dar el paso y reconocer que las primeras mujeres que hicieron teatro tuvieron que vestirse de varones. Mujeres cientficas pusieron seudnimos masculinos para que sus proyectos fueran aceptados en universidades. Ha y cierto miedo de parte de las mujeres de hablar del feminismo. Hay un rechazo a 2 es, por eso partimos desde ese lugar, pero no 3 veinte mujeres en un escenario, pero no que forme parte de un mensaje e
114 discomfort with the rhetoric of feminism, but at interests are taken up by the mere fact that they have joined a group of women that w ... a feminist discourse. We and that men oppress us, no 4 interview, July 21, 2012). This shows present misinformation on feminism, but also an interest to support women informants with erroneous conceptions of feminism were people who have formal education and who are part of a community who reflects on social issues. If even those who would seemingly have access to knowledge of feminism do not understan d it, then it is understandable why a group in the event of understanding and defending feminism, be tagged with false assumptions e day that they fight against all discrimination, or at least that they send the message that there is discrimination against men. A group of women that unites on their aversion for men is a detriment to society 5 interview, June 22, 2012). As stated earl ier, these are not the principles of feminism and what is truly detrimental is that feminism has been so misconstrued that it is used in harmful ways, to criticize those who actually have a vision of equal rights for all, almost undoing or undermining the work it has taken for women to 4 No es un ataque hacia el hombre y el hombre que nos reprime, no 5 hen contra todas las discriminaciones, o por lo menos que pasen el aviso de una discriminacin que va en contra de los hombres. Un grupo de mujeres reunidas por aversin a los hombres perjudica a la sociedad
115 gain the rights they have. Hopefully, in time, there will be better information on feminism as a perspective that seeks equality among all people. To revisit the idea of the strategy of bypassing gender issues, McClary shar es nonissue, precisely because there still remain so many essentialist assumptions about difficult ies women face as composers, the lack of reference points women have had and the negotiation or negation of their identity as women: In order not to resemble the passive ideal of femininity, we have learned how to perform or write ... with balls (emphasis hers ); and yet we have also learned not to play too aggressively for fea r of terrifying (emphasis hers) ... not only do women not have a musical language of their own upon which to rely, but they often have internalized a strong distaste for the idea of per mitting their identities as women to be appare 1991 : 115). A difficulty is that women have not had the same opportunities, resources and life chances to enter arenas such as music composition and performance arts like murga, to u initial shock, a continued search to situate what is new or different and a pervasive criticism that it is not like everything else that has been seen or done. This goes bac k to murga the critics) say that it was too womanly, that it t want to be like men, I want to be like a murga women, nor like men, we have to sing murga and I have not yet achieved that 6 6 decan que era muy de mujeres, que no se pa reca a los hombres ¡Es que nunca se va a parecer a
116 ( interview, June 26, 2012). This reflects the need for women to find their place and a tendency to shy away from a distinctly feminine portrayal or sound. What is nonetheless important is that there is an interest, a search, a struggle for women to gain their place and identity. relations are complex and often, male dominance is of a subverte d nature. Cognitions of systematically been denied power in society internalize messages about what they are 14). possibly change unseen, but oppressive undercurrents and further efforts towards gender equality. The Advocacy of Humor and Music In the case of murga humor, satire, criticism, physical expression through movement and gesture, masking and costumes, expression through song and in strument, etc. Not to mention, the media attention that groups in the official competition receive and the exposure in front of many audiences, particularly the one at Teatro de Verano the outdoor theater where the competition is hosted and has 5,000 6,00 0 live spectators. It can be argued that tenemos que cantar como mujeres, ni como hombres, tenemos que cantar murga, y todava no lo he
117 women have been excluded from murga for many reasons, but among those, is that it is a place of power where there is reflection and opinion making, tasks that have been granted more often to men because women have not been granted the space to be funny or artistically talented. As Gustavo Diverso commented in chapter three, humor is related to power because there is an implication that a subject matter has been analyzed in order to then be criticized. Ann Marie Alm ada said she especially enjoyed presenting thought p ... a kind of acidic humor and that one maybe stays thinking about, [and] that it not be a light the moment ... 7 in terview, July 20, 2012). Laughter itself is part of the cathartic, therapeutic experience that carnival is set upon, like when members of Cero Bola said, he media in 2012 about being an all female group. As Kirschstein puts it, humor acts as a mas k for anger and serious message laughter face 8 June 28, 2012). Laughter then, is a valuable tool for the disenfranchised and an aspect of carnival that creates inversion, in which the powerless are able to laugh at the powerful. 7 ll despus, y que no sea una cosa liviana en el momento ... 8
118 Music is also an invaluable component of murga that has an empowering q uality. music is a powerful social and political pra ctice precisely because in drawing on metaphors of physicality, it can cause listeners to expe rience their bodies in new ways ... m urga brought about controversy or discomfort for some (2002: 25). Gerard Bhague expresses the importance and value of music for a given group in saying that, As a means of non verbal communication, it [music] is one of the most powerful tools of human sel f expression, self assertion and self awareness in relationship to a given social group's cosmovision. Music also operates as a strong agent of social cohesion, whether in terms of social classes, cultural or ethnic identity. Indeed, music has been shown t o act as one of the main factors in the construction of identity (2006: 91 92). These are opportunities which women have not always been granted. Music can function as a source of agency, a medium that supersedes entertainment value and provides social to ols that empower its participants. Music itself is a medium that holds political struggles over whose music, whose images of pleasure or beauty, whose rul es of order shall : 27). The transmission of values or priorities by women in the context of murga is groundbreaking. It can be argued that women have been writing for male groups, but these cases are a minority and they are also not likely to be as focused o more and more women are daring to assert their presence and views through a popular channel tha t was previously denied to them, is a step forward. As Mercedes Martnez on stage democratizes everyone ... The mere presence of
119 female murgas have the potential to give women the possibility to make art, content and form, an d boy does the form matter 9 interview, July 12, 2012). Or like Natalie 338). By participating in activities that make women more visible, they slowly gain ground as r epresenters of culture. Results and Conclusions Not everyone agrees that all female groups are helpful or conducive to creating equality. Two informants said they felt that all female groups created more separation and were in essence, counterproductive to gender equality. Three informants said they message should be more universal. Counter to I think that if we are all women, 10 female group is that it offers liberty to focus on those views, unlike mixed groups ( interview, July 21, 2012). murga, e women produce in murga, gender though it can be argued that the two are convoluted A few also went on to explain that it is a physical, anatomic matter, that women are not able to produce the same volume, strength and de murga traditionally has a tone of assertiveness and bravado. Virginia Cabrera of Cero Bola shared that growing up, she idolized a murga called Contrafarsa have to learn to play [d rums] becaus ... I knew that my voice, 9 femeninas tienen el potencial de darle a la mujer la posibilidad de hacer arte, contenido y forma y vaya si la forma define... 10 me parece que si somos todas mujeres no tenemos que hablar ge nricamente.
120 as much as I learned technique, would never be at the level or volume of Contrafarsa ( interview, July 21, 2012). I do not have any scientific data on the matter of volume and strength, but can observe that men have a lower register and range than women. Perhaps it is a matter of training for women to have louder singing voices, but with the standard use of technology, this should be a lesser a point of contention. Some men said things s different preferences and selections based on the arrangements of instruments one selected ( interview June 26, 2012). very often and have fewer opportunities than men in murga. Considering that murga has for a long time, adjusted to surrounding changes, Guil men should have to adapt to murga, but rather, that murga should stretch its limits to include women 11 interview, July 23, 2012). As with any previous changes dealing with details such as instrumentation, costumes and lyrical content, the shift to include women also brought about discussion and change. Gustavo Diverso summarized this thought well by describing dynamic nature: Murga emerged absorbing artistic cultural elements from society and will continue doing the same. Murga will continue absorb ing new types of media and mass communication, new sensibilities, including the incorporation of women. It will continue changing and it will continue resisting and changes will continue to be defended. That dialectic is what has permitted murga to continu e for one hundred years as the most important manifestation of popular culture 12 ( interview, June 20, 2012). 11 no es que las mujeres se tengan que adaptar a la murga, sino que la murga tiene que estirar sus
121 has brought about without a qu antitative measure but it is possible to take into account the resources this genre provides and the feedback from participants when asked about their experience s Male and female respondents often alluded to or directly referred to the connection between murga and national identity. For example, Milita Alfaro said, [as] Uruguayans, we see ourselves in the mirror of carnival because it is our own music that defines and identifies us 13 interview, July 20, 2012). In regard to the contentious point of timbre, many talked about not being voices, but perhaps as more women participate, more people will grow accustomed Members of Cero Bola shared a curious and humorous anecdote in which friends from Spain came to visit and exclusively heard their group reh earse for a continuous period. When they heard a well liked, famous male group who is known for a strong choir, their murga what ar it When asked about discrimination, female informants did not have strong recollections or many stories to share, but the majority of women either responded or volunteered on their own that they felt carnival is a setting with a lot of machismo, in other words, male dominance. Expressions of discrimination were said to be subtle, but 12 mismo. La murg a va seguir absorbiendo lo que son los nuevos medios de comunicacin, las nuevas sensibilidades, inclusive lo de incorporar mujeres. Va seguir cambiando y se va seguir resistiendo y se va seguir defendiendo los cambios. Esa dialctica es lo que le ha permi to a la murga permanecer durante 13 los uruguayos nos vemos en el espejo del carnaval porque es nuestra msica propia que nos define y
122 Jimena Mrquez remarked that she did not believe Cero Bola would make it to the final round with present day mind sets. el universo carapintada painted universe), as separate from mainstrea m culture or everyday life, but because it is a shows at the Teatro de Verano are said to be so popular that it is difficult for dignitaries get tickets because they regu larly sell out. Two fans I interviewed said they could not get seats two years in a row. Informants also said that carnavaleros were more resistant to and more critical of because there is mone y and power concentrated amongst a minority of people who do not want to make changes to the system that has been in place for over a century. This is paradoxical since carnival is a seemingly liberal world, but is conservative about keeping tradition and allowing newcomers into its inner circles. Many informants mentioned a desire to maintain traditional elements and that there was a tension between tradition and innovation. Ironically, the genre of murga is characterized as a woman that men sing to or as interview, July 12, 2012; Kirschstein 2007: 310). Kirschstein explained this as a form of the marginal expressing dominance over the subservient sex and that walks a fine line between reinforcing and par Descriptions of murga described as cruel, dark and injuring. Christian Font
123 14 interview, July 5, 2012). Emilia Daz 15 knit with seduction, but also drugs and drinking, a nother reason why for so long this was a world not reputable for women or accepting of women ( interview, July 21, 2012). The focus of murga is to entertain, but it is also aggressive and competitive, qualities which were not likened to women Lombardo expressed this duality when he said, everything that has to do with human beings 16 interview, July 3, 2012). When asked about what aspects of carnival informants wished could change, responses were mainly about it being overly competitive, over regulated, not transparent, and that DAECPU held too much power. Although women participants gained many benefits, as explained in chapter three, women are still kept out o f places and positions of power. There are few female directors, writers, carnival journalists or murga owners. To participate in DAECPU, one must be an owner, so women have little to no direct dealings and input with this body of power. In the 2013 carniv al there are two of six members who are women on the jury in the categories of choreography and dance and costume and make up, along with three alternate positions that are women. Women most often occupy secondary roles and when they seldom m anage to gain 14 15 16 el ser humano
124 murga is also a matter of talent and that few women are able to satisfy the volume of voice or stand out in ways that men do. In other words, there are a handful of women who have broken into the carnival and murga scene, but they have gained these privileged positions because characters. This cre ates a barrier and expectation that women have to be talented in a specific exemplary way. Con if the murga is good, I like it 17 interview, July 5, 2012). In a tv interview of Lidia Chipas, a female protagonist of Los Bubys and 2013 juror, former murga colleague True murguistas are asexual. A good murguista is neither man nor woman 18 Todo Carnaval Lidia Chipas 2013). Perhaps a wom an is highly regarded precisely when her voice is of a middle register and is not as notably feminine. One female informant commented that she felt murga. Also, men who train to reach the highest registers sing notes that ordinarily only women are able to sing naturally what is regarded as an accomplishment Costumes often camouflage a embellishments. What would appear to be a space where the two sexes converge is singing in their register, expressing emotion and sensitivity and wearing clothing that is atypical for men, but there is litt le room for women to do the inve rse, to emasculate themselves or find other forms by which to participate. Murgas like Cero Bola have 17 la murga, si est buena me gusta si salgan cebras y jiraf as 18 murguista no es ni hombre ni muje r
125 slips and nightgowns and female superhe roes and showing that there can be feminine interpretations and understandings of murga Cero Bola has a 19 interview, July 4, 2012). Many informants attested to the fact that women in murga are perhaps more daring with their content and discussing gender than male groups. As Mercedes audacious act. Luca Erro shared her reflection on the matter: I try need it and changes are being accomplished in all orders of life, even if permitted themselves to occupy more social roles 20 (personal communication, July 25, 2012). She and others speculated that since murga reflects society, that it is indicating that women are gaining new spaces, new ro les and claiming their voice and that society is audacity, bravery and are precisely, politically incorrect be cause to the common eye, they are occupying a space as int ruders ... anyway] 21 interview, ingredient he sees as essential. 19 Cero Bola tiene otra idea, no trata de ser masculino 20 e desea? Creo que si as sucedi fue porque la poca tambin as lo necesita y se estn logrando cambios en todos los rdenes de la vida, aunque haya mucho por cambiar an. Supongo que es una poca en la
126 Mu rga is a difficult activity for women to enter, especially at the professional level, but female participants shared that they enjoyed and gained many things. In the a hum an exchange of thought, ideas and the way you feel, like a superstar. In carnival, 22 ( interview, July 4, 2012). As mentioned before, the collective element of working in and being part of a group was important to many people, as well as the friendships that are formed. Laura Ganz also mentioned the importance of creating an artistic space for women, hearing other points of view and being a positive example for other women ( int erview, July 2, 2012). The ability to impact or leave an impression, transmit a message and values were also at the heart of what participants enjoyed most about doing murga following response : The dissemination of women ... in carnival offers changes which ar e hard to measure ... ... [been] feminine artistic references on the stage, so quantifying the potential of a feminine presence is difficult ... these changes are ver y slow and look like small drops that fall in isolation 23 ( interview, July 12, 2012). 21 en at revimiento, en arrojo, en ser precisamente, polticamente incorrectas, porque para el ojo comn 22 de pensamiento, de ideas y la manera que te sents, como superestrella. En el carnaval pasa eso. Es como si somos de otro planeta y somos todos iguales 23 [ha bido] referentes femeninos artsticos en el escenario entonces, cuantificar cual es el potencial de la
127 years away [from real equality] 24 interview, July 2, 2012). Laura mentioned being murga no one asks a man murga 25 interview, July 2, 2012). Ideologies and values are slow to change, but is important to recognize advances, and in the case o f murga significant changes have already begun. It is also important to remember the collaborative nature of bringing about societal changes. Both men and women contribute to the perceptions, biases, advances and hindrances of gender equality. Some of the obstacles women face in order to have greater freedom or capacity to participate in carnival are the misconceptions of feminist principles, standing up for few and does n ot look to include newcomers, much less women. Even with the controls and reductions carnival faced in the past century that greatly decreased carnival activity in Uruguay, it remains a social practice of value that can serve many purposes: to bring a sens e of solidarity and national identity, to promote democratic ideals, where criticism and opinion can be voiced, but moreover, to render a free space for release, connection and expression that brings an opportunity of renewal and agency to all. Gustavo Rem edi speaks to the need for carnival the latent world visions and utopian ideals of Carnival are of great interest ... Without utopias, ethical support, or prospective imagination, daily life would be reduced to a puppet sho w, a 24 Hay veces que ni nos damos cuenta de la discriminaci este asunto. Seguro que [est] mejor que antes [pero] faltan a os luz [de una verdadera igualdad]. 25 nadie se le t enga que ocurrir una pregunta as, vamos a estar bien
128 Murga serves to break quotidian norms and is a cultural resource that should be available to all, so that all may be permitted to imagine and project their utopias. Limitati ons The interviews I carried out were by no means exhaustive. The carnival community includes several thousand people and my sample only included twenty seven interviewees. I originally intended to have a sample with a broader age range, but was unable to access individuals between perhaps, sixty and eighty years old. Most of the people I interviewed were middle aged and had significant years of experience in carnival, between fifteen and twenty five years. However, other informants were in their twenties and thirties and had maybe three to ten years of experience. Additionally, I would have liked to have had a more balanced pool of types of interviewees. For example, I only interviewed one person who had been on the official carnival jury, but I interviewe d nine individuals who had at some point participated in Murga Joven I would have preferred to have gone to more rehearsals of different groups and have seen more variety in the way groups work and relate, as I only went to Cero Bola rehearsals. According to informants, Murga Joven rehearsals are more relaxed and of a different nature than those of professional groups. I would have liked more exposure also to traditional murgas I focused on Cero Bola because I was able to gain access to this group within my limited time frame, speak with its members and because it is the only all female murga perspectives in their shows and I wanted to know what feedback or perceptions there might be tow ards a murga who tried something different and brought women to the
129 foreground since for so long, women have worked behind the scenes or are not a central focus when there are maybe one or two women in an otherwise male group. A large obstacle I faced r egarding exposure was that I carried out my research during winter in June and July, perhaps the time of year with the least amount of carnival activity. Groups are in early stages of preparation, not yet rehearsing outdoors where there is easier public ac cess. I translated all interview quotations. While I hold a degree in Spanish and have spoken Spanish all my life, I acknowledge the difficulty of translation and the possibility of errors or discrepancies. I used a snowball sampling technique which r elies on leads to new informants from informants I interview. This limits me to the people informants know, happen to recommend and have a strong enough connection to that they feel comfortable suggesting and passing along their information. I also resorte d to making cold calls, sending cold emails or cold facebook messages to people I saw were listed in other sources, such as, a carnival website. Seven weeks proved to be sufficient time to collect a formidable amount of data and interviews, but more time w ould have helped to build rapport amongst circles of people I was interested in interviewing. I depended some on word of mouth to hear about pertinent places to visit or people to speak to, which is a technique that sometimes requires time to take its cour se. no previous established trust in me or reason to give answers that would create controversy or expose clandestine information. One informant said early on in an interview th murga and later, made a general statement that he liked all murga These kinds of contradictions point to the fact that there may have
130 been a tendency for interviewees to answer what they thought I wanted to hear or what interview, June 22, 2012). I used a recording device for all of my interviews, which may have affected their answers or contributed to a stiffer environment in which they were less prone to opening up. To enhance knowledge on the demographic of women who participate in murga I would have liked to have carried out a quantitative investigation as well through an anonymous survey t hat may have included questions such as marital status, age, profession, level of education completion, income level, political leanings or perspectives, if they had children? This could have provided me a broader idea of what tendencies there might be amo ng women who participate in murga instead of solely weaving together information by means of qualitative sources. My aim was to gain a greater understanding of the incorporation of women into murga in Uruguay. I used historic background and a variety of written and electronic resources as well primary research through interviews to arrive at conclusions. There is a wide amount of information considering the sheer number of murgas likely in the hundreds when Murga Joven professional and amate ur groups are all included. The diversity of groups includes a range of traditions, approaches, perspectives, focuses and goals. My knowledge of this large repertoire is limited, especially since my exposure to live shows includes only two I saw during the winter I conducted field research. All other exposure is based on videos on youtube I have viewed. My focus was to learn about the changes taking place in murga and consequently, in Uruguay and what opportunities this might present for women as they join a genre that has historically excluded them.
131 Advantages and Considerations for Future Studies Research on murga and carnival, in general, lend themselves well to participant observation and interviewing because they are topics that are associated with the public and open to the public. Participants tend have a passion for carnival and are enthusiastic and willing to talk about something they love and dedicate their spare time to. It was helpful that the majority of murga activity is concentrated in Mont evideo, so it was an easy choice to carry out research there. Many people also refer to Uruguay as geography and population was advantageous and people often say thi ngs like, This proved to be true, as I was able to gain contacts by sometimes talking to people unrelated to carnival or to my research. Several informants mentioned the growt h of Uruguayan murga in other places, knowledge, there are no studies that focus on what is happening with murgas and carnival outside of Montevideo. This would be especia lly interesting because many people suggested that those places have less influence of professionalization and amateur acts done by everyday people. The inclusion of women carnival is closely linked to the strong impulse and growth that Murga Joven stimulated m urga It would be interesting to investigate if carnival celebrations in the interior are also including women, desp ite not having the influence of Murga Joven Is the presence of women something that has become a norm, independent of Murga Joven ? Are murgas of the interior more or less likely to
132 include women? Are smaller cities more conservative and therefore less ope n to including women? It was also mentioned that more and more, murgas are travelling to perform in other countries. Another subject matter to study might be the perceptions or interest in Uruguayan murga in those locations, especially as popularity is gro wing in neighboring Argentina. Murga is a national symbol and a source of attraction for tourism, but how is it spreading in other places? What is the nature of followings outside of Uruguay? Another area that is little investigated are the financial deal ings around carnival, both clandestine and not. This would be potentially difficult information to find or receive, but especially valuable because there are not quantitative studies that focus on carnival, although many interviewees would comment things l involvement because it is an area where women face a large barrier. Women have had some success entering groups and getting on stage, but it is evident that men are at the center of business dealings that retain economic and decision making power. Ethel murga she studied, but additional and similar findings could include how much gr oups spend collectively, individually, how much profit is made in various activities surrounding c arnival such as in local businesses, from tablados murguistas may sometimes be hired an entire season for $5,000, but figures like this one are speculative or hearsay. What is intriguing and rich about the topic of carnival is that it can be studied from many disciplines, as it has been, and is of an ever changing nature, which offers unknown possibilitie s for the future, as new developments arise. It
133 offers many facets, as carnival encompasses many genres and traditions and a persistent reflection of events and observations about society. As the songs say, it is a cycle that always returns, but even with its repetitive and predictable nature, it is a celebration that molds itself to and absorbs changes of the times. In our technology filled age where folk traditions do not always survive, it is especially important and inspiring that murga and othe r arts live out a legacy of expression, defiance and community. At the same time, technology has also enabled a vast access to learning about and experiencing this art. Murga grants an opportunity for people to form part of a group and also participate in civil society as revelers and satirists that are watchful and conscious of their surroundings. It continues to transcend the walls and closed doors of theaters and joins people together to communicate what is important and human in a direct, face to face s etting that is ever fleeting. The many transformations and periods murga has survived have enriched this historically undervalued art that today, not only perseveres, but stands out as a medium for public expression. While ephemeral, it deserves recognitio n and attention through academic inquiry so that future generations might know of its history, complexity, and splendor.
134 Figure 4 1 Cero Bola Photo courtesy of Jos Arsi. Figure 4 2. Cero Bola in a street par ade. Photo courtesy of lasmurgas.com.uy.
135 Figure 4 3 La Bolilla que Faltaba in 2012. Photo courtesy of carnaval.elpais.com.uy. Figure 4 4. Cabezudos (Big Heads), a standard character seen in street parades. Photos courtesy of Ana Szogi.
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141 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Ana Laura Szgi was born in Montevideo, Uruguay and came to the United States as a child with her family. I n 2006 she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and International Studies at Baylor University where she graduated cum laude. In 2008 she was a Fulbright grant recipient and carried out a year in Uruguay as an English Teaching Assistant to work in the public schoo l system. Additionally, she has teaching experience at the elementary, middle and high school levels in the United States Having worked in conjunction with the non profit sector, she is also a muralist and maintains a love for visual and performance arts. In 2013 she received her Master of Arts in Latin American Studies with a specialization in anthropology under a Portuguese FLAS Fellowship.