Decolonial Metal Music in Latin America (Book)

Uses ethnographic work throughout Latin America to explore how heavy metal music is used to challenge the colonial past and present. Through extensive research in nine countries, it documents how this musical genre allows listeners and musicians to engage in dialogues that challenge historical and ongoing forms of oppression. 30 b/w illus.

Category: Music


The long-lasting effects of colonialism are still present throughout Latin America. Racism, political persecution, ethnic extermination and extreme capitalism are some salient examples. This new book explores how heavy metal music in the region has been used to critically challenge the historical legacy of colonialism and its present-day manifestations.

Through extensive ethnographic research in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina, Varas-Díaz documents how metal music listeners and musicians engage in “extreme decolonial dialogues” as a strategy to challenge past and ongoing forms of oppression. This allows readers to see metal music in a different light and as a call for justice in Latin America.

Heavy metal related scholarship has made strides in the past decade. Many books have aimed to explain its origins, uses and the social meanings ascribed to the music in a variety of contexts. For the most part, these have neglected to address the region of Latin America as an area of study.

It represents a historical and sociological journey in Latin American heavy metal music through rich ethnographic engagements with performers, fans, and scholars of music. Its central premise is the dialogic relationship amongst deep histories of coloniality, systematic oppression, entrenched inequalities, and the expressive forms generated by “decolonial metal music. The book also provides an exemplary and potentially iconic model of ethnomusicology and the anthropology of music.  

Most previous work on metal music in Latin America has relied on theoretical frameworks developed in the global north, and is therefore limited in understanding the region through its particular history and experiences. There is no scholarship of heavy metal scholarship in the Latin American region that achieves the depth or breadth of analysis represented by this book. It provides a roadmap and a model for this emerging mode of musical analysis, by demonstrating how decolonial metal scholarship can be achieved. 

Academic readership will be from multiple disciplines including cultural studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, sociology, anthropology, cultural geography, history and Latin American studies. It has good reading list potential for music studies programs, as well as for methods courses on structurally informed social research.

There is also potential outside academic settings – accessibly written, with its concise reviews of historical and political-economic contexts, and its vivid storytelling, it will be of interest to consumers of the metal musical genre.

Dr. Nelson Varas-Díaz is a Professor of social-community psychology at Florida International University’s Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies. His work related to metal music addresses issues of community formation, linkages between culture and music, and metal music as a decolonial strategy in Latin America.



Chapter 1

Metal Music’s Decolonial Role in Latin America


Chapter 2

Colonialism is Still Here / Metal is Still Here – Puerto Rico


Chapter 3

The Experience and Sound of Ethnic Extermination – Peru


Chapter 4

Dictatorship/Resistance/Inspiration – Chile


Chapter 5

Social Movements and Hybrid Sounds – Mexico


Chapter 6

Decolonizing Space and Culture amidst Revolutionary Entanglements – Cuba


Chapter 7

Navigating Racism, Classism, and Complex Airwaves – Dominican Republic


Chapter 8

Restoring Memory and Surviving Violence – Colombia


Chapter 9

Education for the Very Few – Guatemala


Chapter 10

An Elusive Word? Aguante as a Decolonial Reflection – Argentina

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