Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student Spotlight: Luis Achondo PhD '20

Name: Luis Achondo

Concentration: Ethnomusicology (PhD)’ 20

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

What is your research on?

My research is about the sonic and aural dimensions of Argentine soccer fandom. Drawing on ideas from ethnomusicology, linguistic anthropology, sound studies, and performance studies, my project examines how fans’ cultural practices relate to violence, affect, place, practices of listening, voice, embodiment, and circulation of popular music.

Soccer games in Argentina are always very musical. Fans sing throughout the entire match. Not just chants, by the way, but actual songs with accompanying percussion and brass instruments. These songs talk about soccer but they also express the feelings of the mostly working-class man who makes up the crowd. These feelings explore a range of ideas, from the social issues that impact all Argentine people on a daily basis to violent, homophobic, misogynistic and sometimes racist ideas. My work looks at how music thus serves as a positively affective experience for this working-class group that otherwise has very little space to express itself but also how it simultaneously makes space for these very problematic ideas. Through a research grant from CLACS, I spent my summer in Argentina and for the first time was able to experience this inexplicable feeling of being in such a place when a game is taking place.