Anthropology of music, popular music scenes, performance practices and challenges of the present

Location 105
Date and Start Time 15 May, 2014 at 15:30


Rajko Mursic (University of Ljubljana) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Music is integrated in human interaction, communication, social exchange, common experience, expression of values, emotions, movements, enjoyment, cognitive mapping and much more. Various issues and emergent topics on anthropology of music, performance and dance will be discussed in the panel.

Long Abstract

Music plays an important role in human life. Anthropologists should consider it seriously, as an important part of everyday life. Whenever and wherever we do fieldwork, we are facing various kinds of music used, played or reflected.

Socially speaking, modern popular music is perhaps the most widespread and at the same time manipulative means of expression shared (or confronted) both globally and locally. Its intangible mediated presence only accelerates its social, i.e., experiential importance for social groups and individuals.

Despite the fact that whole disciplines study music and phenomena related to music, we need more anthropological studies of music, performance and dance. These are important aspects of human life and humanity in general, stemmed from individual and small groups' experience and activities. Music production, reproduction, use, experience and exchange is related to the use of modern communication technologies, market and commerce, but at the same time music scenes create their own networks of creativity (DIY practices), exchange, distribution, and use. Music is especially important in identification and differentiation processes, especially for the youth. It may be used for social mobilization and protest, as well as in nationalist or separatist movements; it may be even used as a means of oppression and violence. It is related to issues of place and space, organization of urban and rural life…

The panel is aimed for scholars who will find interest in the eventual establishment of the new IUAES commission on music, performance, dance and new media.

Chair: Kim Ramstedt
Discussant: Idah Makukule

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Tying the traditional and the popular

Author: Rumi Umino (Hagoromo University of International Studies)  email

Short Abstract

This paper attempts to show the possibility of the concept, "ethno-arts" that can open an arena where traditional and the popular music can be discussed in the same terrain, with describing and analysing the Griqua people's cognition and practices of "music".

Long Abstract

"We can't do music. We just sing hymns. Music is theirs." Griqua people of South Africa told me with surprised eyes as soon as the terms "your music" slipped out from my mouth. And, they explained that the music was something they could listen to, watch and buy. On the other hand, singing hymns is what "everyone in the community can naturally do" for the Griqua people. They say that a Griqua child would start singing hymns in any language when s/he starts to talk.

Definitely consuming musics in the market economy, the pops, Griqua people naturalise themselves with those at the church. How could we perceive the popularity of the traditional hymns and the speciality of the pops? Here we see the traditional casual and popular, and the popular special and non-popular.

In this paper, the author employs the concept of "ethno-arts" introduced by Shigenobu Kimura. The concept of "ethno-arts" should be critically examined for its static view on culture and community. The concept's everyday practice-based perspective, however, opens an arena where the traditional and the popular musics, so-perceived, can be discussed in the same terrain. The paper suggests the possibility of the concept in description and analysis of the Griqua's case as an example.

Exchange network of Japanese indie musicians

Author: Tatsuya Namai  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, I discusses that Japanese indie musicians are in cooperation within the network of a variety of exchange. Those exchange is market-exchange and non market-exchange, and it makes a new relationship and a maintenance of the relationship.

Long Abstract

In this paper, I discusses that exchange networks of Japanese indie musician. In indie music, musician must such as work on their own. It is necessary that they have to go to the activity sustainably, individual musicians to extending the network to each other musicians and clubs. In that network, appearance, ticket, goods are exchanged. Those exchange makes a new relationships and a maintenance of the relationships. The reciprocity is used differently depending on the counterpart and the situation in the exchange, and they have a non-market exchange not only market exchange.And those exchange includes market-exchange and non market-exchange.

Ethnic identity of "Asadoya Yunta" after World War II

Author: Hsinju Sung (National Taiwan University)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on recent theoretical insights on ethnic identity and social practice, and utilizing my own ethnographic data, this research argues to regard Okinawan people as an ethnic other in Japanese culture by analyzing social practices of musicians surrounding "Asadoya Yunta".

Long Abstract

"Asadoya Yunta" is a song known as a minyō (folk song), originates from Yaeyama Islands, a part of Okinawa, Japan. It has changed in its language, lyrics and performing style. After World War II during the U.S. occupied period through Okinawa's return to Japan, the function of the song has continued to change.

Ethnomusicological studies have discussed that music helps to form a social space and represents this space through various social practices (for instance, Stokes 1994). It draws ethnic boundaries, defining and maintaining social identities; it can be used by colonized and minority groups as a marker of identity.

Drawing on recent theoretical insights on ethnicity, identity, and social practice, and utilizing my own ethnographic data, this paper attempts to examine Okinawa's ethnic identity expressed in "Asadoya Yunta."

This research argues to regard Okinawan people not only as a minority group, but also as an ethnic other in Japanese culture by analyzing social practices of musicians surrounding this song, with a focus on the changing process after World War II, especially after Okinawa's return to Japan. It will also argue that although Okinawa is ethnically different from mainland Japan, their identity and music activities are still affected by Japan.

Interlocking mediums: an exploration of Japanese Lolita fashion and visual-kei music

Author: Leia Atkinson (University of Ottawa)  email

Short Abstract

Japanese youth cultures are often described as fandoms, revolving around particular popular culture entities such as anime characters. This presentation will explore Japanese Gothic-Lolita fashion and its relationship to visual-kei musician, Mana, through using both post-subcultural and fandom theory.

Long Abstract

In the 1990s, youth cultures based around media representations began to emerge within Japan. It was at this time that both Lolita fashion and visual-kei music began to rise in prominence. Lolita fashion, featuring bows and petticoats, is often reminiscent of Victorian England. Conversely, visual-kei music emerged as a genre featuring a musical bricolage of rock, metal, opera, and classical music, accompanied by elaborate costumes.

Malice Mizer, a Victorian inspired visual-kei band, and particularly the band's leader, Mana, worked to bridge the gap between visual-kei and Lolita through forming the style 'Elegant Gothic-Lolita'. Mana took "Sweet Lolita" and peppered it with gothic elements, turning its pinks to blacks. He dressed in his newly invented formation of the fashion within music videos and interviews, and founded his own store entitled "Moi-même-Moitié" featuring the clothing that he had designed. Mana significantly influenced the Lolita subculture, through adding to it a gothic element, and subsequently reaching an idol-like status within the fashion, with his fans referring to him with the honorific name suffix "sama".

This presentation will use post-subcultural, and fandom theory to explore how music can shape youth subcultures through an emphasis on Gothic-Lolita fashion and its relationship to Mana of Malice Mizer. In order to do this, it will explore theories such as Michel Maffesoli's 'neo-tribalism' and Ōtsuka Eiji's explorations on Japanese subcultures.

Hardcore music as social discourse in Taiwan

Authors: Koki Yabuta (National Chengchi University)  email
Christopher DeLuca (National Chengchi University)  email

Short Abstract

Hardcore music in Taiwan is a social discourse. It is a musical genre created abroad that has been localized. Our ethnographic research sheds light on Taiwan as a marginalized society and on how metal became the voice of a specific group of people ostracized by mainstream society.

Long Abstract

This study explores how certain music scenes play a role in the creation of social discourses and movements. Since the advent of democracy in Taiwan, the hardcore music scene has undergone an explosive evolution, replicating and creating many new forms of hardcore music, all offshoots of Western 'metal,' but strikingly different and imbued with a strong sense of local mythology, language, and instrumentation.

In terms of ethnographic research, we have conducted several interviews with musicians in hardcore bands, from a range of styles considered 'metal.' We have experienced the music scene by participating in shows and were involved in the discourse itself.

These new forms of hardcore music have much in common with two other forms of musical social discourse, Jazz and Hip-Hop. They all sprang from an urban setting, but reach back and are strengthened by rural legends and a history of conflict. All three forms of social discourse are the products of groups who had previously experienced intense and violent forms of societal oppression, from slavery to foreign occupation to martial law. All of these forms of social discourse speak with the voices of generations that, although they had overcome prior forms of hyper-oppression, continue to suffer from marginalization and ostracization from mainstream forms of media, government, economy, education, etc. Although the present forms of systematic oppression have lessened, marginalization still occurs, and these marginalized groups have spoken and continue to speak (or sing, or scream) out for equitable treatment.

Youth culture, music and religion in urban Cameroon

Author: Raphaela von Weichs (Université de Lausanne)  email

Short Abstract

"Music is prayer two times" and a common expression in the Republic of Cameroon. This paper discusses the power of music as a gendered social and political expression under conditions of the authoritarian state by taking the Republic of Cameroon as a case in point.

Long Abstract

« Music is prayer two times » and a common expression in the Republic of Cameroon. While the country is ruled by the same authoritative regime since decades, much of its population faces serious empoverishment, unemployment and social tensions. Youths are particularly affected by the economic decline. However, political and social protests are rare. They are rather substituted by the practice of religion and the making of music. This paper will show how students, many of them female, create a space of social freedom in Buea, a University city in Southwestern Cameroon, by managing to bring popular music such as 'Makossa' and 'Bikutsi' into the local church and by turning this public but sacred place into a booming night floor. It will thereby discuss the power of music and religion, in the African authoritarian state who likewise uses music and religion as a political device.

Ballet in Japan: ballet's cosmopolitanism reconsidered

Author: Sayako Ono (The School of Oriental and African Studies)  email

Short Abstract

Ballet is watched and learned all over the world, and can be applied to the concept of aesthetic cosmopolitanism. In the consumption of ballet in Japan, however, it refers to not only western hegemonic canons but also local aesthetics. This paper explores the twin processes of adaption.

Long Abstract

Classical ballet is generally regarded as part of the western high arts, and yet it has a global appeal. It is watched and learned in all corners of the world. Ballet seems a perfect candidate for cosmopolitanism in aesthetics.

This paper, by presenting the case of ballet as consumed in Japan, however, critically examines the claims of ballet's cosmopolitanism. The paper, on the one hand, demonstrates how the western hegemonic canons are re-enacted in the Japanese ballet world, but on the other, it highlights the specificities of how ballet is danced and indigenized in Japan. In the first instance, in Japan, as in several non-western countries, ballet is regarded as a symbol of westernisation. And as such, the consumption of ballet becomes a vehicle for enhancing social status. The paper highlights this by narrating the stories of urban middle class women's obsession with ballet. In the second instance, ballet as danced in Japan has its unique characteristics, which challenge the western notions of aesthetics. In Japan, for example, anyone, regardless of their body proportions, has a chance of becoming a professional ballet dancer, contrary to the western aesthetics of the ideal 'thin and long limbed' ballet proportions. In developing its own local aesthetics, Japanese ballet seems to thwart these western hegemonic canons.

This paper, therefore, presents the specificities of ballet in Japan, simultaneously highlighting the Japanese social aspirations as well as local aesthetics.

Musical related medical practices helping Yi children with aids

Author: Ga Wu (Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

In order to help Yi children with aids or related diseases. The Yi made their modification in their traditional practice in both medicine and music fields which updated their ability to deal with current aids problems.

Long Abstract

The Yi traditional music and health care are related, Heroin flow, needle exchange and commercial sex are causing factors for the aids in poor regions of Butuo County, and here Music, photography and painting exhibition were added during the Torch festivals in each year July in order to fight AIDS related illnesses. Special aids preventing topic related drama, opera, dance and, musicals are performed using the Yi music instruments and melody (Yi music rhythm is energetic and powerful. The Yi traditional music with pentatonic, heptatonic, and hexachord scale, with rhythm of tuplet, that involves dividing the beat into a different number of equal subdivisions, with traditional and new standard ornaments and three harmonies. ternary form, usig syncopation music skill, the Yi traditional composers start borrowing from octatonic scale of jazz modern music, and others such as a variety of rhythms of jazz, blues, reggae, hip-hop, electronic dance music, metal music etc, in China, both government and local health workers are now making their co-efforts by both learning and using local Yi traditional health and music knowledge. The goal of this paper is to understand both change and continuity in the Yi health care system.

The performative self-construction of people with mental disorders

Author: Hiroshi Sugimoto  email

Short Abstract

This study aimed to clarify how individuals with mental disorders form self-constructions. Performers express experiences through activities like reading poems. The performative expression of experience is not a representation of failure of self-acceptance but a way of self-construction.

Long Abstract

The purpose of this study was to clarify how people with mental disorders form their self-constructions through performance activities, including music. These individuals perform their experiences mainly by reading their own poems accompanied by music. The contents of the poem do not necessarily represent the experience itself. They are sometimes works of fiction, and the performers sometimes put more weight on performativity than on the expression of the experience itself. People with illnesses or disorders often injure themselves; therefore, it is necessary to reconstruct their identities (Corbin and Strauss 1985). Although admitting self is generally regarded as being truly desirable, performers use fiction and performances to express themselves. The way of expression should not be regarded as a failure of self-construction; rather, it should be regarded as the knowledge and skill of accessing experience deeply and continually. It is difficult for these individuals to accept that they have an illness, but performance activities enable them to accept themselves indirectly through the act of performing. They can adjust the balance of weight of performance versus expressing the experience itself, depending on their intention or the degree of acceptance of self. People with mental disorders can form self-constructions through activities, including musical performances or poetry reading. Performative self-construction is not thought to be pathologic; rather, it is a way to build knowledge or gain skills in order to access the self.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.