With a population of more than 8 million people, Mexico City (also known as Distrito Federal [Federal District]) is the second largest city in the world. Founded in the 16th century over the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of the Aztec Empire, Mexico City was the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain until 1821, when Mexico gained its independence. After a brief imperial period, the Republic of Mexico was established in 1824, with Mexico City as its capital. Today, Mexico City is not only the political and economic center of the country but also a host of some of Mexico’s most important educational and cultural institutions.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of the most recognized centers of higher education in Latin America was founded in 1910 as the National University of Mexico. In 1929, the federal government granted it autonomy, and in 1954 it was moved to its main campus, Ciudad Universitaria. The Escuela Nacional de Música [National School of Music] (ENM) was created also in 1929 and is currently located in the Coyoacán neighborhood. In 1985 the ENM developed an undergraduate degree in ethnomusicology and in 2003 established the master’s and doctorate programs in ethnomusicology and musicology.
In 1921, the Ministry of Public Education (with three departments: schools, libraries, and fine arts) was founded. From its inception, the Fine Arts Department published a series of studies about music and created folk music archives with materials gathered in fieldwork by Luis Sandi, Francisco Domínguez, Raúl Guerrero y Roberto Téllez Girón. The Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes [National Fine Arts Institute] (INBA) was created in 1946, and its Folklore Sub-Section organized a comprehensive folk music archive, recording lab, and audio library based on the field recordings of Henrietta Yurchenco and Raúl Hellmer. It also published a series of books among which are Hellmer’s work completed between 1947 and 1952. In 1974, the Music Research Section became the Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical [National Center for Music Research, Documentation, and Information] (CENIDIM), remaining under INBA’s jurisdiction.
The Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia [National Anthropology and History Institute] (INAH) was established by federal decree in 1939. Today, INAH coordinates its work through 31 regional centers throughout the country, and it is responsible for approximately 110,000 historical monuments, 29,000 archeological sites, and more than 100 museums, among them the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology) and the Museo Nacional de Historia (National Museum of History). In 1967, Arturo Warman and Irene Vazquez founded INAH’s Fonoteca [Sound Archive]. It currently carries more than 700,000 recordings and has commercially released more than 50 CD’s of traditional and popular Mexican music.
In 2003, the Instituto Nacional Indigenista [National Indigenist Institute] (INI) , which had been created in 1948, became the Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas [National Commission for the Development of Indigenous People] (CDI). CDI operates in 24 of the country’s states via 110 coordinating centers; the Centro de Investigación, Información y Documentación de los Pueblos Indígenas de México [Center for Research, Information, and Documentation of Indigenous People] (CRID); 28 regional centers; 1,085 schools; 20 multilingual AM radio stations; and 4 FM experimental stations that broadcast in 15 states of the country, reaching about 21 million people in over 900 cities and towns. From its very beginnings, the CDI has organized many festivals, concerts, and events, and has published music scores, audio transcriptions, catalogs, and recordings related to indigenous music and dance.
The Dirección General de Culturas Populares [General Office for Popular Cultures] (DGCP) began working in 1978 and currently manages the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares [National Museum for Popular Cultures] (MNCP) and the Centro de Información y Documentación [Research and Documentation Center], as well as 19 regional units. This institution has organized a wide variety of museum exhibits and fairs, and has published books and recordings about popular and indigenous Mexican traditions.
The Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes [National Council for Culture and Arts] (CONACULTA) was created in 1988 as an administrative institution for the promotion, support, and sponsoring of artistic and cultural events at the national level. It has its offices in Mexico City and coordinates several institutions, including the Centro Nacional de las Artes [National Center for the Arts] (CNA); Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica [Center for Cinemaptographic Learning] (CCC); Cineteca Nacional [National Film Archive]; la Fonoteca Nacional [National Audio Archive]; the Educal bookstores; Churubusco Azteca Film Studios; INAH; INBA; Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía [Mexican Film Institute]; and Radio Educación. It also manages museums such as MNCP; Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes [Museum of the Fine Arts Palace]; Museo Nacional de Arte [National Arts Museum]; Diego Rivera Museum; Museo Nacional de Antropología; Museo Nacional de Historia. It is also in charge of schools and research centres such as CENIDIM; Escuela Nacional de Danza Folklórica [National School of Folk Dance] (ENM-INBA); Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía “Manuel Castillo Negrete” [“Manuel Castillo Negrete” National School of Conservation, Restoration, and Museography] (ENCRyM-INAH); Escuela Superior de Música [Superior Music School] (ESM-INBA); and the Conservatorio Nacional de Música [National Conservatory of Music] (CNM-INBA).
The SEM annual meeting will take place at the Meliá Hotel on Paseo de la Reforma, a few blocks from Mexico City’s historical downtown. This will offer a chance to visit many nearby museums as well as a great variety of restaurants and entertainment possibilities.
Besides the academic activities of the conference, there will be many associated events of great intellectual, artistic, and cultural interest. Please check the conference website for further information and announcements.