CLU students and staff gathered in the Lundring Events Center on Thursday, Oct. 11 to be introduced to the new culture of Afro-Colombian hip-hop.
Christopher Dennis, associate professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Christopher Dennis, spoke about his exploration of the impact that globalization and the transnational range of U.S. popular culture, particularly hip-hop and rap, have on the social identities of younger generations of blacks in Colombia.
This event was hosted by California Lutheran University’s department of languages and cultures and the Center for Equality and Justice. According to Sheri Wigginton, associate professor in the department of languages and culture, the reception and lecture were in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“We really wanted to branch out on the topics this month,” said Wigginton.
Wigginton said that the Afro-Colombian culture is not often spoken about and does not receive as much attention as it deserves.
Dennis’ invitation to CLU didn’t come by happenstance.
Wigginton and Dennis met at an Afro-Latin American Research Association conference two years ago in Lima, Peru. After Wigginton was invited by Dennis and appeared on a panel at UNC Wilmington, she then invited Dennis to speak at CLU on behalf of his new book and previous research.
“She thought my research would be adventurous to the students here,” said Dennis.
During his hour-long presentation on Afro-Colombian hip-hop, Dennis discussed his personal journey with several different popular Afro-Colombian hip-hop artists and his desire to explore in detail this genre of music.
When asked why he chose to explore the hip-hop music genre specifically, Dennis reflected back to his childhood.
“It’s the music of choice of so many young people around the world. Even as a young kid I was infatuated with hip-hop,” said Dennis. “I think it was because of my own personal history and then finding out that the hip-hop movement in Colombia was such a significant movement. I was just naturally interested and intrigued.”
When describing the subject, his thoughts were evident.
“It’s such a rich source of material to study that it’s hard not to get hooked once you get started,” said Dennis.
Additionally, this type of music is “trendy right now and all through Latin America. Hip-hop has become global,” said Dennis.
When asked what they thought of the event, students had positive sentiments.
Collin Knudsen, a junior at CLU, was there for his Spanish class.
“I thought it was pretty interesting. He related to U.S. hip-hop and rap which made it really easy to follow,” said Knudsen.
Senior Jackie Russell was another member in the audience who attended for her upper division global religion class.
“Although I thought it was hard to follow at times, I thought it was very interesting,” said Russell.
Dennis has published many articles on Afro-Colombian literature in addition to his new book, “Afro-Colombian Hip-Hop: Globalization, Transcultural Music, and Ethnic Identities,” which can be purchased at Amazon.com.
Published Oct. 17, 2012