Tag Archives: josh kun

Cell phones across borders



    Screen shot from YouTube site that has video of Los Pikadientes de Caborca

I’ve been doing a masters program at USC that specializes in online social networks, so I’m always thrilled when that topic merges with my long-standing interest in border subjects.

Vozmob, or Mobile Voices, is a project that provides a platform for low-wage immigrants in Los Angeles to publish stories and photos about their lives and communities through cell phones. The idea is that “marginalized populations lack access to digital technology yet aspire to participate meaningfully in the digital public sphere,” according to a project summary.

Here is an interview with USC professor Francois Bar, who explains the project in more depth.

Meanwhile USC professor Josh Kun recently wrote in The New York Times about how cell phones are creating new conduits for Mexican regional bands. The songs are uploaded to the phones or are used as ring tones. Then they spread virally through communities, underscoring how the regional Mexican industry is utilizing the cell phone as a “one-stop music source and symbol of working-class immigrant identity,” according to Kun’s story.

Kun, an expert in border culture topics, profiles the success of one of these bands, Los Pikadientes de Caborca, one of whose members readily admits that “we wouldn’t exist without cell phones and ring tones.”


* I work for USC’s media relations department but haven’t worked directly with these two professors * 

Catching up with Tijuana singer Julieta Venegas in L.A.


                   Screenshot of YouTube video of Venegas. Go here to see video

Artist Julieta Venegas is Tijuana’s pride and joy for her unique musical style that seems to transcend borders, genres and ages. She came to the University of Southern California last week as part of the USC Annenberg Distinguished Lecture Series on Latin American Art and Culture that is hosted by series director and USC professor Josh Kun, himself an expert in border arts and culture.

I wanted to attend the special “chat and sing” event on Feb.  12  – but I had a grad school class, so I caught up with the visit on the Los Angeles Times blog, Pop & Hiss. According to writer Margaret Wappler, “Venegas shared anecdotes about growing up in Tijuana, listening to her mother sing Jose Jose songs in the car, and later, as a teenager, crossing the border for drive-in movies in San Diego.” Read more of what Wappler has to say here.

To hear and see a music video of Venegas(above), go to this YouTube site.

Disclosure: I work in the media relations department at USC, though I wasn’t involved in this particular event.