Department of Music Colloquium

Presenter: Eduardo Herrera
Location: 32 Waverly Place, Room Silver 320

“Music, Policy, and Philanthropy: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin American Music during the Cold War”


In 1962 the Rockefeller Foundation authorized a grant toward the creation of the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (CLAEM) at the Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This grant as well as a 1965 follow-up grant constitute the most visible and impactful action taken by the Rockefeller Foundation to support Latin American music, totaling $306,000 ($2.4 million in 2016). Even within the United States only a handful of music projects had received as much funding as CLAEM did, and even fewer had as much success. The grant's international scope, and the way it simultaneously resonated with the business interests of the Rockefeller family in the region and U.S. foreign policy during the early 1960s exemplifies recurring overlaps between philanthropy, cultural diplomacy, government and private interests. In this presentation I argue that it was no coincidence that the increased attention to Latin American music happened at the same time that United States' foreign policy in the region shifted from the hands-off approach of the 1950s to the support of social and economic development programs of the 1960s, best exemplified by the Alliance for Progress. Most scholars explain this alignment between the U.S. private philanthropy and state-derived foreign policy as the result of philanthropy mediating between the public and the private sectors. By tracing the constitutive networks that led to CLAEM's grants, I seek to destabilize the concept of philanthropy as a preexisting third force and instead argue that philanthropy is an emerging domain of complex entanglements, webs of relations and ideas, all being mediated and enacted as the result of human, institutional, discursive, and even material actors. In doing so, this work illuminates the relationships between foreign policy, corporate interests, and funding for the arts in the mid-twentieth century, and brings to the foreground the part played by the individuals acting within the web-like domain of philanthropy in the United States.


Eduardo Herrera is Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology and Music History at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He specializes in contemporary musical practices from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin America. He has done historical and ethnographic research in topics including Argentinean and Uruguayan avant-garde music, soccer chants as participatory music making, and music and postcoloniality in Latin America. Herrera is currently working on a book titled Elite Art Worlds: Philanthropy, Latin Americanism, and Avant-Garde Music. In this work, Herrera explores the history of the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (1962-1971) as a meeting point for local and transnational philanthropy, the framing of pan-regional discourses of Latin Americanism, and the aesthetics and desires of high modernity. Also forthcoming from Herrera is a co-edited volume with Alejandro Madrid and Ana Alonso-Minutti titled Experimentalisms in Practice: Music Perspectives from Latin America. This volume discusses a wide variety of artistic and musical traditions from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos/as in the United States, conceived and/or perceived as experimental.