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Wednesday, April 1

The Call of The Sirirí: Birds, Humans, and Sound in Post-Agreement Colombia
4:00 pm
Juan Fernando Velasquez, Postdoctoral Fellow/Assistant Professor, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
Sponsored by:
Center for Latin American Studies
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The Call of The Sirirí: Birds, Humans, and Sound in Post-Agreement

Via Zoom at 4pm: pitt.zoom.us/j/469033895

After the signature of the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP guerrilla in 2016, different Colombian institutions have promoted avitourism, a form of eco-tourism based on birdwatching, as an economic activity that can revitalize local economies after decades of conflict. International institutions and NGOs have pointed out that avitourism simultaneously generates income, empowers local communities, and encourages the conservation of fragile ecosystems. However, avitourism also relies on an epistemology of sound imbricated in notions of difference that separates nature and culture, a binary that allows the commodification of biological diversity to fuel neo-extractivist “green industries.” This presentation introduces an analysis of Ana Maria Romano’s “El Suelo Desde el Viento” and Edson Velandia’s “El Cli-Cli-Clí de Paro” to explore an alternative epistemology of sound connecting culture and nature, human and nonhuman, who coexist in a way that one becomes a part of the other. Such study presents the Colombian case to explore the limits and biases of the uses of notions such as biodiversity within neo-extractivist economies in the Global South, while points to the necessity of understanding and respecting the meaningful ways how different peoples interact with the nonhuman beings around them.


Juan Fernando Velasquez is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Michigan Society of Fellows and Assistant Professor in the Department of Musicology in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He also holds a Ph.D. in Musicology with certificates in Latin American and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA. in Musicology of the University Eafit, from Medellín, Colombia. His articles have appeared in journals like Latin American Music Review and the Boletín de Musica de Casa de las Américas, and his book “Los ecos de la villa: La música en los periódicos y revistas de Medellin (1886-1903)” won the fellowship for research in Culture by the Municipio de Medellín (2011).

Among other recognitions, he has received the Fulbright-Mincultura fellowship for Colombian Artists (2012), the Tinker Fellowship (2015), the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship (2017), and an honorary mention in the Otto Mayer-Serra Award (2018). His new project, “Remapping Urban Sounds: A Cultural and Social History of Music, Sound, Listening, and Urban Modernization in Colombia (1886-1930),” studies sound’s relationship to urban modernization in postcolonial contexts by analyzing questions about privilege, modernity, and ecologies of sound in postcolonial Colombia.