Senior Thesis Series: Puerto Rican Urban Music as Consciousness Raising

Ever wondered what a Harvard senior thesis looks like? Read about what Valeria Pelet ’15 wrote!

What concentration are you in?

History and Literature

Can you summarize your thesis briefly?

History and Literature let me study the force of culture known as Calle 13. Calle 13 is a popular Puerto Rican urban music band that, throughout its career, has used satire and humor to poke fun at unjust, racist, and sexist forms of imperial oppression. My thesis traces the band’s evolution from a pseudo-reggaetón band to a multigenre collective focused on consciousness-raising and creating supranational solidarity networks through music. My findings will shed light on Calle 13’s political progression, which connects listeners in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and across the globe.

Was there a particular experience or class that helped you get the idea for your research?

I grew up with the band.

What was your most interesting/most surprising finding?

Since I grew up with the band, I was surprised to learn just how complex Calle 13’s musical mission is. I was also fascinated to learn about the political interventions that shaped this music’s direction.

If people want to learn more about your topic, what sources would you recommend?

To learn more about Calle 13, start watching the music videos for “Atrévete-te-te,” “Latinoamérica,” and “Multi_Viral” as primer. Follow that up with Wayne Marshall, Raquel Z. Rivera, and Deborah Pacini Hernandez’s anthology, Reggaeton.

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