Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny, in a promotional image. Eric Rojas (EFE)
The researcher at the Center on North America Ariadna Estévez has no hint of doubt.
"I like reggaeton," she tells EL PAÍS in a telephone interview.
Next January, the professor will teach a two-week quarterly course at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM):
Reggaeton as resistance to American colonialism and soft masculinity as sexual capital:
the Bad Bunny phenomenon
In it, Estévez will delve into the figure of
, the best-known Puerto Rican artist and the most listened to singer on the Spotify platform globally, not only as an aesthetic benchmark for reggaeton, but also as a figure of protest in the field. Puerto Rican politician.
Estévez tells that in his classes he tries to be original.
To do this, it seeks to create a link with popular culture.
, we watch
and I have a dialogue with my students to explain the theoretical frameworks”.
He assures that using the Bad Bunny phenomenon as an example for his course is due to personal taste.
“I like to get into marginal research spaces, where nobody wants to, where it bothers me, where it gets in the way of people.
Where classism and racism are crossed”, indicates Estévez, who considers that reggaeton is a great example of this “because it brings out the worst in people”.
“Everyone drops their university degree when they listen to reggaeton.
It appeals to me as a researcher,” she says.
Estévez has specialized for years in the study of necropolitics, a concept coined by the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe, which refers to those policies that dictate how some people can live and how others must die.
“What has interested me lately is the bizarre relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.
It is very curious to see how the US develops the use of law, of necropower, of the rule of law.
It creates this ambiguity in which it loots resources, creates second-class citizens…”, he exposes.
Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth with self-government status, which means that the US continues to administer the island.
Poster of the course offered by the UNAM on Bad Bunny. UNAM POSTGRADUATE
Bad Bunny as a political subject
This paradigm of the relationship between the US and Puerto Rico was the beginning to start taking into account the figure of Bad Bunny.
“Doing this analysis I came to the subject of resistances.
It is not the first time that
singers have played an important role in the colonial resistance against the US”, he explains.
He exemplifies the case with other artists such as Ricky Martin or Residente who, like
, participated in the 2019 protests on the island to demand the resignation of then-governor Ricky Roselló for participating in homophobic and sexist chats.
He tells that the collaboration of Puerto Rican
It has always been present in this context.
"It's like the cultural resistance of Afro-descendants to jazz, it's like a tradition," the researcher stresses.
The 2019 protests revolutionized the island.
Bad Bunny himself canceled the recording of his album to join the mobilizations on the island to demand the resignation of the then governor.
That moment occurred just two years after Hurricane
, when the wound was still open.
The cyclone destroyed almost the entire electrical grid of the country.
After the disaster, in addition, Puerto Rico signed a contract with the private company Luma Energy for 15 years, which created controversy due to the loss of the public network and the constant blackouts that have been maintained up to now.
US relations with Puerto Rico have not ceased to be controversial in the country.
Through the video clip
which has become a criticism of gentrification, the expulsion of
from the island, and US tax incentives (marked in
, dedicated to investors), Bad Bunny reflected the malaise of the Puerto Rican people with their situation.
An example of the "necropolitics" to which Estévez refers.
The year 2023, says the researcher, will be a "key" moment for the Caribbean country.
She refers to the binding referendum that is being prepared for the month of September and that, if approved by the US Congress, will allow Puerto Ricans to choose between three options: to be an independent country;
to be one more State of the USA;
or continue as before, as a Commonwealth.
Bad Bunny as aesthetic
The UNAM course will have another branch more focused on reggaeton and "soft masculinity."
With this concept, Estévez refers to "a new way of doing reggaeton", far from the "gangster aesthetics of artists like Nicky Jam or Daddy Yankee".
"I don't know what Bad Bunny will do in his private life, but I'm talking about the aesthetics of his songs," he says.
The teacher exemplifies how this "new style" is accepted by the most reticent society towards gender with the case of her son.
“He doesn't like reggaeton, but Bad Bunny does.
The singer appeals more to the middle classes, he is not a Daddy Yankee-type gangster, he is something else, at the time he also had his point of resistance, ”she indicates.
She assures that the
"rethinks things within the genre", "another sexuality", but without taking away sex.
"Sex is an endemic part of the genre, there is a lot of criticism of that, but you can't talk about reggaeton without taking sex into account," reflects Estévez.
A month after the start of the course (which will be held from January 9 to 23), the teacher assures that she went to one of the two Bad Bunny concerts in Mexico City.
“It was a great, great, great show.
A great concert”, concludes the researcher.
The Puerto Rican singer announced that, after these last two dates, he will rest during 2023.
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