Singing the war

Reconfiguring white upper-class identity through fusion music in post-war Lima

Between 1980 and 2000, Peru was engulfed in an internal war confronting the state and two armed groups, the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. In the aftermath, violence was replaced by silence along with distrust, disunity and distance between the Andes and Lima, which reinforced social segregation by class, race and ethnicity. This article is informed by interviews conducted during fieldwork in Lima during 2010-11. The article explores the ravages of war as one of the main factors fuelling an apparent LimeƱo white upper-class desire to integrate with the broader Peruvian population through popular intercultural fusion music. It argues that a sector of white upper-class fusion musicians and audiences link their wishes and dreams to their daily music life, enabling them to change normalised hierarchical worldviews and act accordingly, to move beyond apathy, privilege and delusion. They do so by turning exclusive upper-class concert spaces into political spaces of attempted social reconciliation, liminal spaces to renegotiate identities and political attitudes by musicking and empathetically acknowledging and listening to those historically silenced by hegemony and racism. They make music a technology of self-transformation, a means for the white upper classes to counteract the underlying causes of the violence, which persist.

Journal British Journal of Ethnomusicology
Year 2016
Volume 25
Issue 2
Pages 191-209

Montero-Diaz, Fiorella (2016) Singing the war: reconfiguring white upper-class identity through fusion music in post-war Lima. In: British Journal of Ethnomusicology, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 191-209. Available at


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