Canciones de Los Aplaches: Latinx Music, Migration, and Belonging in Appalachia
Sophia's dissertation titled "Canciones de Los Apalaches: Latinx Music, Migration, and Belonging in Appalachia" was the first full-length study of Latino creative practices in the Appalachian region. She is currently working on a book project that expands this work and shows how longstanding narratives of Appalachia as a monolith have obscured the movement of Latino people to and through the region over the past century. Canciones de Los Apalaches pieces together the fragmented history of Latino communities in Appalachia while also shedding light on current-day Latino Appalachian cultural practices surrounding music, dance, and food. This project asks how Latino Appalachian communities make sense of their political and social circumstances through music while also expressing a particular relationship to place. Building disciplinary relationships across Latinx studies, Appalachian studies, folklore, and ethnomusicology, this work sheds light on the complexities of the shifting U.S. cultural landscape in Appalachia and the South and offers new perspectives on Latino community, migration, and belonging through music.
Photo by Jared Hamilton
Caption: Musicians from Veracruz, Mexico participate in a jam at the Mountain Fiesta, an annual event that celebrates Latino and Appalachian culture in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.
HonkyTonk & Hot Tamales: Making Mexican Cultural Life in Mississippi
Sophia's second project, in its early stages and tentatively titled, centers the untold Mexican cultural legacy of the Mississippi Delta. Blending story-telling approaches from historical ethnomusicology, oral history, and folklore, this work specifically explores Sophia's family history as Mexican sharecroppers and musicians in the Mississippi Delta in the early twentieth century. Sophia tells the story of her great-grandfather, Nicolas Enriquez, a fiddler and tamale maker who migrated to Mississippi from the Texas-Mexico border in the late 1920s. There, he married Maria Vargas and they raised their twelve children, many of whom also became musicians of both traditional Mexican and southern music. Nicholas (Nick) was active at regional fiddle contests, including the Mississippi state fair fiddle contest, and started a fiddle/country/honky-tonk jam in his backyard shed in the 1950s. The jam continues to this day as "Tuesday Night Pickers" in Cleveland, Mississippi, where many members of the jam remember Nick and his weaving in and out of Mexican and Southern musical worlds. As scholars of Mexican migration to the south such as Julie Weise have shown, the Enriquez family is just one example of the profound impact Mexican laborers made on the political, ecnomic, and cultural currents of the South in the twentieth century. This project uncovers a wider Mexican musical history of the Mississippi Delta that has been lost to mainstream narratives of the U.S. South while also documenting how more recently arrived Mexican families to the Mississippi Delta express their southern Mexican culture through music.