Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



The 1979 Nicaraguan revolution stands out as a significant event in twentieth-century Latin American history. Characterized by a popular mass uprising, the people joined the Sandinista movement to fight for their freedom after four decades of oppression by the Somoza dynasty. This led to the successful overthrow of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, sadly with a death toll of over 40,000 Nicaraguans dead. In this dissertation, I examine the impact of Nicaraguan protest music in shaping narratives, amplifying voices, fostering solidarity, mobilizing, inciting the masses, and fostering the idea of death and martyrdom in Nicaraguan society. Drawing from personal experiences and an analysis of music lyrics and rhythm, I explore how music serves as a powerful tool for social and political mobilization.

The analysis explores the intricate relationship between music, context, speech acts, and necropolitics to understand how music functioned, supported, and contributed to the success of the Sandinista movement. By examining historical and cultural contexts, this study traces the evolution of protest music across different regions and eras, emphasizing its interconnectedness and global impact. Furthermore, employing the theory of speech acts, I dissect the lyrics and performances of Nicaraguan revolutionary music, categorizing them into roles such as mobilization and participation, solidarity and inclusiveness, critique, and military training. I also explore the concept of necropolitics, shedding light on how music performed as a form of violence and martyrdom, shaping individuals' understanding of life and death within the revolutionary context. By employing speech acts and necropolitics as analytical frameworks, this dissertation provides a comprehensive understanding of the ideological objectives and transformative power of protest music in Nicaragua. The findings contribute to the broader understanding of the role of music in social and political movements, offering avenues for future research and highlighting the potential of other art forms in effecting social change.



Committee Chair

Erincin, Serap

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