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Rhythm and Race in the Americas
Long a taboo subject among critics, rhythm finally takes center stage in this book's dazzling, wide-ranging examination of diverse black cultures across the New World. Martin Munro’s groundbreaking work traces the central—and contested—role of music in shaping identities, politics, social history, and artistic expression. Starting with enslaved African musicians, Munro takes us to Haiti, Trinidad, the French Caribbean, and to the civil rights era in the United States. Along the way, he highlights such figures as Toussaint Louverture, Jacques Roumain, Jean Price-Mars, The Mighty Sparrow, Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Zobel, Daniel Maximin, James Brown, and Amiri Baraka. Bringing to light new connections among black cultures, Munro shows how rhythm has been both a persistent marker of race as well as a dynamic force for change at virtually every major turning point in black New World history.
Popular Music Audiences in Freetown, Sierra Leone
This book offers an intriguing account of the complex and often contradictory relations between music and society in Freetown’s past and present. Blending anthropological thought with ethnographic and historical research, it explores the conjunctures of music practices and social affiliations and the diverse patterns of social dis/connections that music helps to shape, to (re)create, and to defy in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown. The first half of the book traces back the changing social relationships and the concurrent changes in the city’s music life from the first days of the colony in the late 18th century up to the turbulent and thriving music scenes in the first decade of the 21st century. Grounded in this comprehensive historiography of Freetown’s socio-musical palimpsest, the second half of the book puts forth a detailed ethnography of social dynamics in the realms of music, calibrating contemporary Freetown’s social polyphony with its musical counterpart.
One of the most comprehensive and widely praised introductions to folklore ever written. Toelken's discussion of the history and meaning of folklore is delivered in straightforward language, easily understood definitions, and a wealth of insightful and entertaining examples.
Toelken emphasizes dynamism and variety in the vast array of folk expressions he examines, from "the biology of folklore," to occupational and ethnic lore, food ways, holidays, personal experience narratives, ballads, myths, proverbs, jokes, crafts, and others. Chapters are followed by bibliographical essays, and over 100 photographs illustrate the text. This new edition is accessible to all levels of folklore study and an essential text for classroom instruction.
A Food Studies Reader
Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community
In Echoes from Dharamsala, Keila Diehl uses music to understand the experiences of Tibetans living in Dharamsala, a town in the Indian Himalayas that for more than forty years has been home to Tibet's government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama's presence lends Dharamsala's Tibetans a feeling of being "in place," but at the same time they have physically and psychologically constructed Dharamsala as "not Tibet," as a temporary resting place to which many are unable or unwilling to become attached. Not surprisingly, this community struggles with notions of home, displacement, ethnic identity, and assimilation. Diehl's ethnography explores the contradictory realities of cultural homogenization, hybridity, and concern about ethnic purity as they are negotiated in the everyday lives of individuals. In this way, she complicates explanations of culture change provided by the popular idea of "global flow."
Diehl's accessible, absorbing narrative argues that the exiles' focus on cultural preservation, while crucial, has contributed to the development of essentialist ideas of what is truly "Tibetan." As a result, "foreign" or "modern" practices that have gained deep relevance for Tibetan refugees have been devalued. Diehl scrutinizes this tension in her discussion of the refugees' enthusiasm for songs from blockbuster Hindi films, the popularity of Western rock and roll among Tibetan youth, and the emergence of a new genre of modern Tibetan music. Diehl's insight into the soundscape of Dharamsala is enriched by her own experiences as the keyboard player for a Tibetan refugee rock group called the Yak Band. Her groundbreaking study reveals the importance of music as a site where official and personal, old and new representations of Tibetan culture meet and where different notions of "Tibetan-ness" are being imagined, performed, and debated.
This collection represents, in substance and style, folk tradition in the North-West Region of Cameroon. Contained herein is a sampling of various human emotions, parental concerns, and societal conflicts: emotional insecurity, deceit, obstinacy, power and control, trickery, malevolence, greed, jealousy, and more. The stylistic representation is reflected in the double writing, as shown by the dialogues, the songs, and the use of choruses. These tales are ageless, placeless, and, therefore, anonymous; yet they are also the collective wisdom of a people who are supposed once to have walked the planet and communed with other animals and non-animals on the same terms. That is how humans, animals, vegetation, water, and hills/mountains are equally animate and have linguistic expression for their thoughts and sentiments. Folktales served primarily as entertainment, and also as a convenient way of teaching history and culture, and they invariably promoted good listening and speaking skills in the vernacular language as children learned to model the rhetorical patterns of their adult folkloristsówith children taking turns night after night till they had gone full circle and then started recounting the same tales over. While the morale of some of the tales is obvious, that of other tales is not; and that, again, is typical both of the traditional mind set and of the educational backdrop of storytelling.
Narcocorridos and the Construction of a Cultural Persona on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Since the late 1970s, a new folk hero has risen to prominence in the U.S.–Mexico border region and beyond—the narcotrafficker. Celebrated in the narcocorrido, a current form of the traditional border song known as the corrido, narcotraffickers are often portrayed as larger-than-life “social bandits” who rise from poor or marginalized backgrounds to positions of power and wealth by operating outside the law and by living a life of excess, challenging authority (whether U.S. or Mexican), and flouting all risks, including death. This image, rooted in Mexican history, has been transformed and commodified by the music industry and by the drug trafficking industry itself into a potent and highly marketable product that has a broad appeal, particularly among those experiencing poverty and power disparities. At the same time, the transformation from folk hero to marketable product raises serious questions about characterizations of narcocorridos as “narratives of resistance.” This multilayered ethnography takes a wide-ranging look at the persona of the narcotrafficker and how it has been shaped by Mexican border culture, socioeconomic and power disparities, and the transnational music industry. Mark Edberg begins by analyzing how the narcocorrido emerged from and relates to the traditional corrido and its folk hero. Then, drawing upon interviews and participant-observation with corrido listening audiences in the border zone, as well as musicians and industry producers of narcocorridos, he elucidates how the persona of the narcotrafficker has been created, commodified, and enacted, and why this character resonates so strongly with people who are excluded from traditional power structures. Finally, he takes a look at the concept of the cultural persona itself and its role as both cultural representation and model for practice.
Elliott Oring asks essential questions concerning humorous expression in contemporary society, examining how humor works, why it is employed, and what its messages might be. This provocative book is filled with examples of jokes and riddles that reveal humor to be a meaningful--even significant--form of expression. Oring provides alternate ways of thinking about humorous expressions by examining their contexts--not just their contents. Engaging Humor demonstrates that when analyzed contextually and comparatively, humorous expressions emerge as communications that are startling, intriguing, and profound.
This powerful and popular epic honors the legendary warrior prince of Kaabu and Mandinka cultural hero, Kelefaa Saane. A standard of the griot repertoire, the epic of Kelefaa Saane is customarily taught to young performers at the beginning of their careers. Sirifo Camara's masterful recitation was recorded in Dakar in 1987. It has been transcribed in Mandinka and is translated into English here for the first time. The epic, as it describes Kelefaa's life and exploits, relates what it means to be Mandinka. Kelefaa's extraordinary prowess and virtue derive from the political, social, moral, and theological founding myths of the Mandinka people. This beautiful and engaging performance provides a unique perspective on the intellectual and literary heritage of West Africa.