The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

Thursday 15 May – Professor Ron Pen

Dear All 

Please join us Thursday 15th May for our penultimate EthNoise workshop of the year. 
GOH 205 
We would like to welcome Professor Ron Pen of the University of Kentucky who will present the following paper:
“Kyrgyzstan and Kentucky Embraced a Local and Global Dialogue”
The negotiation of local and global perceptions of culture has been shaped by popular culture dissemination, social media, ease of travel, and increasing urbanization. The East Kentucky region of Appalachia and the mountainous Tien Shan area of Kyrgyzstan have been conceived as oppositional forces harboring traditional cultures bound to community in continuity despite changing modern political and social contexts.
Both cultures have been used to exemplify national identity. In the United States Appalachia represented a bastion of British culture in opposition to the diversity of immigration   In Kyrgyzstan, traditional nomadic culture represented core values in opposition to Russian and Soviet influence.  In both cases, the mountains were conceived as symbolic and actual borders that protected traditional culture.
Through several recent U.S. State Department-sponsored cultural exchange opportunities, I, in concert with an old time string band The Red State Ramblers, was in a position to interact with traditional Kyrgyz musicians.  Observations concerning nationalism, myth, narrative epics, pedagogy, folklore strategies, and persistence of traditional culture in new contexts will be illustrated through a power point discussion and music.
Ron Pen is professor of music at the University of Kentucky where he also serves as director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music and coordinator of the Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology.  With research and performance interests in traditional Appalachian culture, he is a fiddler with the Red State Ramblers and a founding member of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers.  As a member of the Red State Ramblers he has participated in U.S. State Department cultural exchanges in Kyrgyzstan, China, and Ecuador. His recent publications include I Wonder As I Wander: The Biography of John Jacob Niles (University Press of Kentucky 2010) and “Preservation and Presentation of the Folk: Forging an American Identity” in Music, American Made: Essays in Honor of John Graziano (Harmonie Park Press 2011).


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