Matthew Machin-Autenrieth completed his PhD thesis at the School of Music in 2013 under the supervision of Dr John Morgan O’Connell. The full text of his thesis – Andalucia flamenca: Music, regionalism and identity in southern Spain – is available from ORCA, Cardiff University’s online research repository.
In recent years, flamenco has been consolidated as a prominent symbol of regional identity in Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain. In the late 1970s, Spain began to decentralise into seventeen autonomous regions. As a result, each region has been encouraged to foreground its own culture vis-à-vis national culture. Although associated with Spain in general, flamenco has fulfilled the role of regional identity building in Andalusia. Increasingly, the Andalusian Government has focused attention on the development of flamenco within and outside of the region. In this thesis, I explore this relationship between flamenco and regional identity in Andalusia. In doing so, I draw upon the theoretical tenets of political geography. Through scholarly exchange, I argue that political geographers and ethnomusicologists can learn much about the relationship between music and regional identity. I use flamenco as a pertinent case study of this relationship in the European context. In particular, I discuss the role that governmental institutions play in the ‘regionalisation’ (Schrijver 2006) of flamenco (that is, the institutional development of flamenco as an ‘official’ symbol of regional identity). However, I argue that at times the regionalisation process can be disputed and subverted. Accordingly, I contend that regionalism (that is, the bottom-up identification with a region) in Andalusia is a fragmented concept. By examining the contexts, the discourses and the styles associated with flamenco, I present alternative readings of regionalism in Andalusia. Drawing upon virtual ethnography and traditional ethnography in Granada, I examine the reception and the production of flamenco at a local level as well as at a regional level. Arguably, some flamenco scholars present a somewhat rigid understanding of the relationship between flamenco and regional identity. By offering different readings of regionalism through flamenco, I reveal the complex and contested relationship between flamenco and identity in southern Spain.