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Eating Asian America Cover

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Eating Asian America

A Food Studies Reader

Robert Ji-Song Ku

Chop suey. Sushi. Curry. Adobo. Kimchi. The deep associations Asians in the United States have with food have become ingrained in the American popular imagination. So much so that contentious notions of ethnic authenticity and authority are marked by and argued around images and ideas of food.
 
Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader collects burgeoning new scholarship in Asian American Studies that centers the study of foodways and culinary practices in our understanding of the racialized underpinnings of Asian Americanness. It does so by bringing together twenty scholars from across the disciplinary spectrum to inaugurate a new turn in food studies: the refusal to yield to a superficial multiculturalism that naively celebrates difference and reconciliation through the pleasures of food and eating. By focusing on multi-sited struggles across various spaces and times, the contributors to this anthology bring into focus the potent forces of class, racial, ethnic, sexual and gender inequalities that pervade and persist in the production of Asian American culinary and alimentary practices, ideas, and images. This is the first collection to consider the fraught itineraries of Asian American immigrant histories and how they are inscribed in the production and dissemination of ideas about Asian American foodways.
  
Robert Ji-Song Ku is Associate Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University. He is the author of Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA.
 
Martin F. Manalansan IV is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora.
 
Anita Mannur is Associate Professor of English and Asian /Asian American Studies at Miami University. She is the author of Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture.

Echoes from Dharamsala Cover

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Echoes from Dharamsala

Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community

Keila Diehl

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.

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The Egg Polisher and Other Tales

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.

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El Narcotraficante

Narcocorridos and the Construction of a Cultural Persona on the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Mark Cameron Edberg

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.

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Embodied Modernities

Corporeality, Representation, and Chinese Cultures

Fran Martin & Larissa Heinrich (eds.)

From feminist philosophy to genetic science, scholarship in recent years has succeeded in challenging many entrenched assumptions about the material and biological status of human bodies. Likewise in the study of Chinese cultures, accelerating globalization and the resultant hybridity have called into question previous assumptions about the boundaries of Chinese national and ethnic identity. The problem of identifying a single or definitive referent for the "Chinese body" is thornier than ever. By facilitating fresh dialogue between fields as diverse as the history of science, literary studies, diaspora studies, cultural anthropology, and contemporary Chinese film and cultural studies, Embodied Modernities addresses contemporary Chinese embodiments as they are represented textually and as part of everyday life practices. The book is divided into two sections, each with a dedicated introduction by the editors. The first examines "Thresholds of Modernity" in chapters on Chinese body cultures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—a period of intensive cultural, political, and social modernization that led to a series of radical transformations in how bodies were understood and represented.The second section on "Contemporary Embodiments" explores body representations across the People’s Republic of China,Taiwan, and Hong Kong today.

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Engaging Humor

Elliott Oring

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.

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The Epic of Kelefaa Saane

Sirifo Camara. Edited and translated by Sana Camara

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.

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Essential Song

Three Decades of Northern Cree Music

Includes audio CD with over 50 Cree hunting songs

Essential Song: Three Decades of Northern Cree Music, a study of subarctic Cree hunting songs, is the first detailed ethnomusicology of the northern Cree of Quebec and Manitoba. The result of more than two decades spent in the North learning from the Cree, Lynn Whidden’s account discusses the tradition of the hunting songs, their meanings and origins, and their importance to the hunt. She also examines women’s songs, and traces the impact of social change—including the introduction of hymns, Gospel tunes, and country music—on the song traditions of these communities.

The book also explores the introduction of powwow song into the subarctic and the Crees struggle to maintain their Aboriginal heritage—to find a kind of song that, like the hunting songs, can serve as a spiritual guide and force.

Including profiles of the hunters and their songs and accompanied by an original audio CD of more than fifty Cree hunting songs, Essential Song makes an important contribution to ethnomusicology, social history, and Aboriginal studies.

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Everyday Music

Exploring Sounds and Cultures

Alan Govenar; Online teaching resources by Paddy Bowman

Native American drumming and chant; Czech and German polka; country fiddling; African American spirituals, blues and jazz; cowboy songs; Mexican corridos; zydeco; and the sounds of a Cambodian New Year’s celebration — all are part of the amazing cultural patchwork of traditional music in Texas. In Everyday Music, author and researcher Alan Govenar brings readers face-to-face with the stories and memories of people who are as varied as the traditions they carry on.? In 1986, Alan Govenar traveled more than 35,000 miles around Texas, interviewing, recording, and photographing the vast cultural landscape of the state. In Everyday Music, he compares his experiences then with his attempts to reconnect with the people and traditions that he had originally documented. ?Stopping at gas stations, restaurants, or street-corner groceries in small towns and inner-city neighborhoods, Govenar asked local residents about local music and musicians. What he found on his road trip around the state—and what he shares in the pages of this book — are the time-honored songs, tunes, and musical instruments that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Govenar invites you to accompany him on his journey — one that will forever change the way you look at the traditional music that is such an important part of our everyday lives.? Everyday Music is accompanied by a special online resource (www.everydaymusiconline.org) with video clips, recorded interviews, and performances. The site also features special resources for teachers who want to bring this rich cultural experience into their classrooms and for general readers who simply want to know more.

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Explaining Traditions

Folk Behavior in Modern Culture

Simon J. Bronner

Why do humans hold onto traditions? Many pundits predicted that modernization and the rise of a mass culture would displace traditions, especially in America, but cultural practices still bear out the importance of rituals and customs in the development of identity, heritage, and community. In Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture, Simon J. Bronner discusses the underlying reasons for the continuing significance of traditions, delving into their social and psychological roles in everyday life, from old-time crafts to folk creativity on the Internet. Challenging prevailing notions of tradition as a relic of the past, Explaining Traditions provides deep insight into the nuances and purposes of living traditions in relation to modernity. Bronner’s work forces readers to examine their own traditions and imparts a better understanding of raging controversies over the sustainability of traditions in the modern world.

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