Ritual and Meaning in the Mariachi Festival Movement of the United States



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A musical tradition originating from Mexico in the mid-19th century, the mariachi, through its diaspora, has since taken root in greater areas of the world. One of the greatest contributions has come from Mexico's northern neighbor, the United States. In the mid to late 20th century, the mariachi tradition underwent many significant changes in the U.S., mainly through its adoption into academic institutions. The development has reached a zenith through the U.S. mariachi festival movement. Festival attendees embark on yearly pilgrimages from all parts of the world to attend these week-long festivals. Through the theoretical frameworks of Van Genneps's limen and the Turnerian framework of communitas, mariachi festivals are observed as temporary spaces away from the regular social order. Through the multiple positions the author has held across twenty years of attendance at numerous festivals, the events provide opportunities for moving into the innermost workings of the festivals. With the inception of the San Antonio International Mariachi Conference in 1979, the components of this original mariachi festival model persist to the present day. Mariachi festivals have since proliferated throughout the greater Southwestern United States. This document explores the most prominent festivals, the Tucson International Mariachi Conference and the Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque. In these, the components of the original 1979 model themselves undergo a continual transformative development.



U.S. mariachi, festival, mariachi, ritual, borderlands, communitas