Songs of Exile: Music, Activism, and Solidarity in the Latin American Diaspora

Claudia Bucciferro


This article addresses the long-standing connection between music and social activism in Latin America, centering on a discussion of ‘the music of exile’ as a cultural artifact of historical and conceptual significance for diasporic Latin American communities. The music produced by artists who were persecuted during the years of military rule was characterized by an engagement with social and political affairs, and often helped bring people together in the struggle for democratization. Despite censorship laws and other repressive measures enacted by the dictatorships, the music not only endured but traveled across nations and continents, carried by the millions of people who were displaced due to State-sponsored violence. Now distributed through new media platforms, such as YouTube, this music functions as a repository of memory and an emblem of solidarity that connects dispersed Latin American communities. Using Cultural Studies as a theoretical framework and employing an interpretive methodology, this study focuses on a selection of songs written between 1963 and 1992, presenting an analysis that centers on their lyrics and connects their meanings to larger social processes.