Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Musicology (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates

Second Committee Member

Willa Collins

Third Committee Member

Paul Wilson


The circo criollo, or Argentine native circus, arose as one of the most important forms of popular expression during the late nineteenth century. This performance context can serve as a site for exploring old and new constructions of Argentine identity that encompassed the lower and middle classes and included native and immigrant groups, particularly in Buenos Aires. Although the native circus contributed greatly to the creation of such an identity, little is known about the musical practices of the circus itself, including what types of music or dance were performed, the manner in which they were interpreted, and how the audience responded. This thesis therefore aims to bring to light these previously obscure circus traditions. It discusses the negotiation and conflict of power relationships that informs Argentine identity construction within this popular expressive medium. By examining the circo criollo as a site of hegemonic power differentials, this study probes more deeply into the contradictions that underlie such a fragile yet persistent sense of incipient Argentine identity.


Criollo Circus; Gaucho; Cocoliche; Argentine Folk Music