Víctor Jara's Revolutionary Masculinities

Víctor Jara's Revolutionary Masculinities
26 September 2018, 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Bedford Room, G37, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Professor Daniel Party, Instituto de Música, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

This presentation focuses on Chilean singer-songwriter Víctor Jara (1932-1973), the world-wide icon of politically-engaged popular music in Chile and martyr of that country’s bloody 1973 coup d'etat. Throughout Latin America, Jara has been narrativized as a “hombre nuevo,” Che Guevara’s vision for the ideal revolutionary: masculine, resolute, and willing to sacrifice the personal for a socialist ideal. Close listening of his most iconic love songs of the 1960s, however, renders an artist struggling to define his own masculinity, one torn between the demands of the Communist Party for normative masculinity and the freer conceptions of manhood expressed in late 1960s rock music.

I also explore the ways in which Jara's bisexuality shaped some of his career choices and alliances. During the early sixties, in his equally distinguished work in theater and neofolklore, Jara collaborated closely with left-leaning, but queer-friendly collectives that not only welcomed him, but permitted the exploration of divergent sexualities. In contrast, the Popular Unity coalition that Jara actively endorsed starting in 1969 considered homosexuality bourgeois and anti-revolutionary. Through an analysis of his love songs, I propose an new understanding of Jara, one considerably more complex and nuanced than the available hagiographies of a slain political martyr. 


Olga Jimenez
020 7862 8871