Reviewed Elsewhere: Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, Flamenco, Regionalism and Musical Heritage in Southern Spain.

Lars Fischer's picture

Matthew Machin-Autenrieth. Flamenco, Regionalism and Musical Heritage in Southern Spain. Abingdon: Routledge, 2017, ix + 186 pp. £95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-472-48006-4.

A great paradox has long surrounded flamenco: as an artistic expression, it is an exaltation of personality, of the emotional and intimate, and yet it has also been the object of political uses both at the regional and national levels, taken today as the emblem of Andalusian autonomy and the icon of the Marca España [Spanish Brand]. Despite the designation of flamenco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO (in 2010), this ideological use has never been universally accepted in other Spanish regions or within Andalusia. Flamenco, Regionalism and Musical Heritage in Southern Spain explores in depth the conflict between this geopolitical use of flamenco and its concordance with and repercussion on the local scene. Matthew Machin-Autenrieth critically analyses the issues that stem from the use of flamenco as a badge of an allegedly shared Andalusian essence and the strong localisms that have traditionally characterised it, a problem which also affects neighbouring regions such as Extremadura and Murcia, as well as non-Andalusian capitals of great importance in the universalisation of flamenco such as Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and New York. ...
 
This volume, based on the doctoral thesis of the author, is the result of combining the study of an extensive bibliography in the fields of ethnography, political geography and flamencology with remarkable fieldwork centred in the area of Granada, carried out through interviews, surveys and direct participation in artistic and pedagogical flamenco contexts. The author provides multiple testimonies ranging from academics, artists and flamenco aficionados to institutional leaders and members of protest groups, bringing together varied and sometimes conflicting opinions on the impact that regional policies for the promotion of flamenco have at the local level, even for the flamenco artists themselves. ... 
 
This volume distinguishes itself from other studies by emphasising the problems arising between regional policy and local realities, both in the musical and socio-economic spheres. The author brings a geopolitical perspective rare in flamencology, providing a parallel panorama of the growing political autonomy in Andalusia over the last few decades and the deliberate adoption of flamenco as a means to strengthen a common identity. ... 
 
The author gathers the concern of artists and amateurs regarding the homogenising tendency of the institutional policy of flamenco promotion, in which many local or peripheral expressions do not find space. ...
 
As the author concludes, the localised study of these practices and their contexts would allow a better understanding of the plurality of Andalusian identities and perhaps construct a more multi-faceted image of Andalusian culture in which all of the citizens of this community could be reflected.