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Burst of Breath Cover

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Burst of Breath

Indigenous Ritual Wind Instruments in Lowland South America

Jonathan David Hill

The first in-depth, comparative, and interdisciplinary study of indigenous Amazonian musical cultures, Burst of Breath showcases new research on the dynamic range of ritual power and social significance of various wind instruments—including flutes, trumpets, clarinets, and whistles—played in sacred rituals and ceremonies in Lowland South America.

The editors provide a detailed overview of the historical significance, scientific classification, shamanic and cosmological associations, and changing social meanings of ritual wind instruments within Amazonian cultures. These essays present a wide perspective that goes beyond better-documented areas such as the Upper Xingu and northwest Amazon. Some of the authors explore the ways ritual wind instruments are used to introduce natural sounds into social contexts and to cross boundaries between verbal and nonverbal communication. Others look at how ritual wind instruments and their music enter into local definitions and negotiations of relations between men, women, kin, insiders, and outsiders.

Closely considering these instruments in their many roles and contexts—in curing and purification, negotiating relations, connecting mythic ancestors and humans today—this volume reveals the power and complexity of the music at the heart of collective rituals across lowland South America.

Cairo Pop Cover

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Cairo Pop

Youth Music in Contemporary Egypt

Daniel J. Gilman

Cairo Pop is the first book to examine the dominant popular music of Egypt, shababiyya. Scorned or ignored by scholars and older Egyptians alike, shababiyya plays incessantly in Cairo, even while Egyptian youth joined in mass protests against their government, which eventually helped oust longtime Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. Living in Cairo at the time of the revolution, Daniel Gilman saw, and more importantly heard, the impact that popular music can have on culture and politics. Here he contributes a richly ethnographic analysis of the relationship between mass-mediated popular music, modernity, and nationalism in the Arab world.

Before Cairo Pop, most scholarship on the popular music of Egypt focused on musiqa al-ṭarab. Immensely popular in the 1950s and ’60s and even into the ’70s, musiqa al-ṭarab adheres to Arabic musical theory, with non-Western scales based on tunings of the strings of the ‘ud—the lute that features prominently, nearly ubiquitously, in Arabic music. However, today one in five Egyptians is between the ages of 15 and 24; half the population is under the age of 25. And shababiyya is their music of choice. By speaking informally with dozens of everyday young people in Cairo, Gilman comes to understand shababiyya as more than just a musical genre: sometimes it is for dancing or seduction, other times it propels social activism, at others it is simply sonic junk food.

In addition to providing a clear Egyptian musical history as well as a succinct modern political history of the nation, Cairo Pop elevates the aural and visual aesthetic of shababiyya—and its role in the lives of a nation’s youth.

Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California Cover

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Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California

Modern Pleasures in a Postmodern World

Queen Ida. Danny Poullard. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank. Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. These are names that are familiar to many fans of Cajun music and zydeco, and they have one other thing in common--longtime residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are all part of a vibrant scene of dancing and live Louisiana-French music that has evolved over several decades. Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California traces how this region of California has been able to develop and sustain dances several times a week with more than a dozen bands. Description of this active regional scene opens into a discussion of several historical trends that have affected life and music in Louisiana and the nation. The book portrays the diversity of people who have come together to adopt Cajun and Creole dance music as a way to cope with a globalized, media-saturated world. Ethnomusicologist Mark F. DeWitt innovatively weaves together interviews with musicians and dancers (some from Louisiana, some not), analysis of popular media, participant observation as a musician and dancer, and historical perspectives from wartime black migration patterns, the civil rights movement, American folk and blues revivals, California counterculture, and the rise of cultural tourism in "Cajun Country." In so doing, he reveals the multifaceted appeal of celebrating life on the dance floor, Louisiana-French style.

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Campus Traditions

Folklore from the Old-Time College to the Modern Mega-University

Simon J. Bronner

From their beginnings, campuses emerged as hotbeds of traditions and folklore. American college students inhabit a culture with its own slang, stories, humor, beliefs, rituals, and pranks. Simon J. Bronner takes a long, engaging look at American campus life and how it is shaped by students and at the same time shapes the values of all who pass through it. The archetypes of absent-minded profs, fumbling jocks, and curve-setting dweebs are the stuff of legend and humor, along with the all-nighters, tailgating parties, and initiations that mark campus tradition--and student identities. Undergraduates in their hallowed halls embrace distinctive traditions because the experience of higher education precariously spans childhood and adulthood, parental and societal authority, home and corporation, play and work.

Bronner traces historical changes in these traditions. The predominant context has shifted from what he calls the "old-time college," small in size and strong in its sense of community, to mass society's "mega-university," a behemoth that extends beyond any campus to multiple branches and offshoots throughout a state, region, and sometimes the globe. One might assume that the mega-university has dissolved collegiate traditions and displaced the old-time college, but Bronner finds the opposite. Student needs for social belonging in large universities and a fear of losing personal control have given rise to distinctive forms of lore and a striving for retaining the pastoral "campus feel" of the old-time college. The folkloric material students spout, and sprout, in response to these needs is varied but it is tied together by its invocation of tradition and social purpose. Beneath the veil of play, students work through tough issues of their age and environment. They use their lore to suggest ramifications, if not resolution, of these issues for themselves and for their institutions. In the process, campus traditions are keys to the development of American culture.

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Canvas Detroit

Julie Pincus and Nichole Christian

Detroit’s unique and partly abandoned cityscape has scarred its image around the world for decades. But in the last several years journalists have begun to view the city through a different lens, focusing on the wide range of contemporary artists finding inspiration amid the emptiness and adding a more complex chapter to the story of a city long labeled as a haunting symbol of U.S. economic decline. In Canvas Detroit, Julie Pincus and Nichole Christian combine vibrant full-color photography of the city’s much-buzzed-about art scene with thoughtful narrative that explores the art and artists that are re-creating Detroit. Canvas Detroit captures hundreds of pieces of artwork in many forms—including large-scale and small-scale murals, sculptures, portraits, light projections, wearable art, and installations (made with wood, glass, living plants, fiber, and fabric). Works are situated in both obvious and more hidden spaces, including on and in houses, garages, factories, alleyways, doors, and walls, while some structures have been entirely transformed into art. Pincus and Christian profile creators working in Detroit, including internationally known figures like Banksy, Matthew Barney, and Tyree Guyton; prominent Detroit artists such as Scott Hocking, Jerome Ferretti, and Robert Sestock; and collectives like Power House Productions, Hygenic Dress League, the Empowerment Plan, and Theatre Bizarre. Canvas Detroit also includes an introductory essay by Mame Jackson, and contributions by John Gallagher, Michael Hodges, Rebecca Hart, and Linda Yablonsky that contextualize the current artistic moment in the city. This beautifully designed and informative volume showcases the stunning breadth and depth of artwork currently being done in Detroit. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in arts and culture in the city.

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Carnival Theater

Uruguay’s Popular Performers and National Culture

Gustavo Remedi

The murgas are troupes of performers, musicians, writers, and creators who, during Montevideo’s Carnival, perform on the tablados, temporary stages built in the neighborhoods of Uruguay’s capital city each year. Throughout the period of Uruguay’s subjection to a brutal dictatorship and in the following era of “democratization,” the murgas, envisioned originally as popular theater, were transformed into a symbol of social resistance, celebrated by many and perceived by others as menacing and subversive.

Focusing on the cultural practices of the lower classes and more specifically on the processes and productions of the murgas, Gustavo Remedi’s Carnival Theater is a deeply thoughtful consideration of Uruguayan society’s identity crisis and subsequent redefinition in the wake of the authoritarian-bureaucratic-technocratic regimes of the 1970s. A revealing work of cultural criticism, the book proposes a new set of criteria for the interpretation and critique of national culture.



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Carolina Piedmont Country

John M. Coggeshall

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Carrying the Word

The Concheros Dance in Mexico City

By Susanna Rostas

In Carrying the Word: The Concheros Dance in Mexico City, the first full length study of the Concheros dancers, Susanna Rostas explores the experience of this unique group, whose use of dance links rural religious practices with urban post-modern innovation in distinctive ways even within Mexican culture, which is rife with ritual dances. The Concheros blend Catholic and indigenous traditions in their performances, but are not governed by a predetermined set of beliefs; rather they are bound together by long standing interpersonal connections framed by the discipline of their tradition. The Concheros manifest their spirituality by means of the dance. Rostas traces how they construct their identity and beliefs, both individual and communal, by its means. The book offers new insights into the experience of dancing as a Conchero while also exploring their history, organization and practices. Carrying the Word provides a new way for audiences to understand the Conchero's dance tradition, and will be of interest to students and scholars of contemporary Mesoamerica. Those studying identity, religion, and tradition will find this social-anthropological work particularly enlightening.

Celebrating 100 Years of the Texas Folklore Society, 1909-2009 Cover

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Celebrating 100 Years of the Texas Folklore Society, 1909-2009

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor

The Texas Folklore Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious organizations in the state. Its secret for longevity lies in those things that make it unique, such as its annual meeting that seems more like a social event or family reunion than a formal academic gathering. This book examines the Society’s members and their substantial contributions to the field of folklore over the last century. Some articles focus on the research that was done in the past, while others offer studies that continue today. For example, L. Patrick Hughes explores historical folk music, while Meredith Abarca focuses on Mexican American folk healers and the potential direction of research on them today. Other articles are more personal reflections about why our members have been drawn to the TFS for fellowship and fun. This book does more than present a history of the Texas Folklore Society: it explains why the TFS has lasted so long, and why it will continue.

Cemeteries Gravemarkers Cover

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Cemeteries Gravemarkers

Richard Meyer

Cemeteries house the dead, but gravemarkers are fashioned by the living, who record on them not only their pleasures, sorrows, and hopes for an afterlife, but also more than they realize of their history, ethnicity, and culture. Richard Meyer has gathered twelve original essays examining burial grounds through the centuries and across the land to give a broad understanding of the history and cultural values of communities, regions, and American society at large.

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