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Mar 8 2022

Stevenson Lecture – Spain and Spanish America in Early US Entertainment Culture, 1783–1801 with David Garcia


Robert Stevenson presented a fascinating historiographical comparison of music historians of the United States and of Latin America in a lecture titled “Philosophies of American Music History,” delivered at the Library of Congress in 1969. Stevenson initiated his comparative critique by stating that “all historians of music in the United States insist on beginning ethnocentrically with the white man...whereas, “any Latin American historian would today begin with tribal music.” Over fifty years later, how might Stevenson’s claim be interpreted?

David Garcia's lecture explores the changes in US music historiography since 1969. Stevenson’s implication of whiteness as signaling an anxiety articulated by historians of the nation’s music is still with us today, both the music histories of the United States, and our current political debates about the 1619 Project and critical race theory. Garcia draws from his research on pre-twentieth century histories of Latin music, dance, and theater in the United States to explore key implications of Stevenson’s 1969 lecture in regards to US music historiography and his call for a US music history philosophy that is all-encompassing over style and ethnicity. Garcia frames his analysis of the performances and representations of music and dance of Spanish speaking people by and alongside late eighteenth-century Anglo Americans as articulating the geographic, racial, epistemic, and national borders that Walter Mignolo calls the “interior routs of modernity/coloniality” (Mignolo and Walsh 2018, 112). Where Stevenson challenged US music historians, rhetorically asking “why not begin for a change with Florida or New Mexico, rather than Plymouth?” (Stevenson 1970, 14), Garcia argues that his 1969 lecture contains remarkable instances of what Catherine Walsh and Walter Mignolo would later describe as “pluriversal decoloniality” (Mignolo and Walsh 2018, 2).

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This event is FREE! No RSVP required. Early arrival is recommended.


Self-service parking is available at UCLA’s Parking Structure #2 for events in Schoenberg Music Building and the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. Costs range from $1 for 20 minutes to $20 all day. Learn more about campus parking.


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Food and drink may not be carried into the theaters. Thank you!


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.