Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

9/1/2013 - 8/31/2014

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

A Biography of Violeta Parra (1917-1967), Chilean Folklorist, Musician, and Visual Artist

FAIN: FB-56944-13

Ericka Kim Verba
California State University, Dominguez Hills (Carson, CA 90747-0001)

I propose to use my fellowship year to write a transnational biography of Chilean folklorist, musician and visual artist, Violeta Parra (1917-1967). My book traces Parra’s prolific and versatile artistic trajectory across two continents in order to investigate how it simultaneously refracted and constituted cosmopolitan modernity in post-World War II Latin America and Europe. My work illuminates the local variation and transnational interconnectedness of modernist-capitalist cultural projects promoted in those sites where Parra earned her living as an artist: Santiago, Buenos Aires, Paris, London, and Geneva. A communist sympathizer, Parra also performed within modernist-socialist circuits. My study therefore also sheds comparative light on the competing imaginaries of folk and nation promoted by the Soviet Union within its sphere of influence. Beyond its broader historic purpose, my book offers a much-needed critical analysis of a figure who is the focus of considerable interest.

Media Coverage

Ericka Verba Granted NEH Fellowship for Life’s Work (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Perdew, Laura
Publication: Dominguez Today Magazine
Date: 2/11/2013

Associated Products

“Back in the Days When She Sang Mexican Songs on the Radio…Before Violeta Parra was Violeta Parra” (Book Section)
Title: “Back in the Days When She Sang Mexican Songs on the Radio…Before Violeta Parra was Violeta Parra”
Author: Verba, Ericka
Editor: Dillon, Lorna
Abstract: My book chapter reconstructs Parra’s more commercially-oriented musical activities prior to her emergence as a folklorista in the early 1950s. It notes if and why Violeta jettisoned the artistic pathways of her teenage years through her early thirties upon embarking on her career as a folklorist. The chapter pays particular attention to the sexual politics of her work as a cantante popular [popular singer] and to the ways in which she challenged them, to some -- if limited -- success.
Year: 2016
Access Model: TBA
Publisher: Tamesis Books
Book Title: Violeta Parra: The Complete Praxis
ISBN: Forthcoming

“The Hybrid Purty and International Nationalism of Violeta Parra’s Folkloric Project” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “The Hybrid Purty and International Nationalism of Violeta Parra’s Folkloric Project”
Author: Verba, Ericka
Abstract: This paper offers an analysis of Violeta Parra’s first solo album, “Violeta Parra, la voz de los campos chilenos” (Odeón Chilena, 1955). The record represents the pivotal moment in Parra’s life as she left behind a promising and decades-long career as a performer of música popular to pursue her newfound vocation of folklorist. Beyond capturing the musician in her personal moment of transition, the album illustrates key and diverse aspects of the cosmopolitan musical scene of the 1950s. It includes two traditional songs Parra collected as a folklorist, elaborately arranged with Parra on vocals accompanied by a small ensemble of studio musicians. It also features Parra’s original composition “Casamiento de negros,” which would be picked up and recorded the next year by the U.S. musician and composer Les Baxter, pioneer of the exotica movement of the 1950s and early 1960s. Finally, it includes Parra’s hit, “Que pena siente el alma,” which would be included on an international demo album for television and radio put out by Capitol Records in 1956. The multi-directionality of Parra’s first solo album underscores the ill-defined and transitory cultural moment in which it was produced. It reached “back” to the “root” music of the Chilean countryside even as it adapted the traditional cantos to modern musical styles. It was the first release in Odeón Chilena’s series, “cantos de Chile” and thus a nationalist project, yet it provided Parra with her first exposure to an international audience.
Date: 05/27/2015
Conference Name: XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association