With a Song in Their Hands

Carla Gerona

Awarded the best article in Borderlands History, 2015

With a Song in Their Hands: Incendiary Décimas from the Texas and Louisiana Borderlands during a Revolutionary Age,”

Early American Studies 12 (Winter 2014): 91-142.

During the late eighteenth century the commanders on Spain’s northern frontier town of Nacogdoches conducted two trials against citizens who sang songs that offended them and challenged their authority. One group sang in French and the other in Spanish, and taken together the two trials offer a unique opportunity to observe and reconstruct the vibrant and original musical culture that developed in this contact zone. By placing the songs in a local, regional, and Atlantic context, this essay shows that the Creole ranchers, farmers, and traders of east Texas and west Louisiana invented new songs to retain control of their communities. This essay also suggests that the singers and musicians shared ideas with each other, while participating in the creative developments that flourished during the Age of Revolutions. Both French and Spanish Creoles incorporated subversive subjects into their music, though in the end their ribald and incendiary songs did not lead either group to overthrow the Spanish government. Nonetheless,because the musical compositions posed a threat to Bourbon authorities and foreshadowed future uprisings, an analysis of these cases can help us re-imagine revolutionary Texas from a fresh perspective that is at once more Tejano and more transregional.

This website was designed by Hayden Gregg and Carla Gerona

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Carla Gerona

Email : cgerona@hsoc.gatech.edu

Telephone : 404-894-2601

Office Address :

School of History and Sociology

221 Bobby Dodd Way

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

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