The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

EthNoise! To Meet This Thursday, May 9


Dear all,

I’m writing to remind you that EthNoise! will meet this Thursday, May 9, from 5-6:20 pm in Rosenwald 301. Our presenter will be Dr. Anna Schultz, the newest faculty member in ethnomusicology in the Department of Music. Dr. Schultz will be presenting “Rehearing the Past: Identity and Indenture in Indian Guyanese Music,” an abstract for which appears below. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out before then if you have any questions at all. I look forward to seeing you soon!


Jon Bullock

“Rehearing the Past: Identity and Indenture in Indian Guyanese Music”

150 years after the end of indenture in the British Caribbean, its spectre lingers in the music of East Indians in Guyana and twice-diasporic Indian Guyanese people in North America. For many Indian Guyanese performers, the past is a reminder of indenture’s traumas, while for others, it is painful for its erasures, for the cultural disruptions wrought of forced and coerced relocation. For still others, the past is an embarrassing site of rural stereotypes. Political theorists have emphasized the role of tradition and historical imagination in nationalist formations, but how do Indian Caribbeans construct nationalist and diasporic identities when the past is so fraught? In this talk—with examples drawn from YouTube slideshows, U.S. Guyanese Hindu temple performance, and current chutney-soca hits—I argue that Indian Guyanese performers adopt a range of musical strategies to re-imagine a past shaped by indenture. Through creative recontextualization and remediation, singers transform trauma into heritage, they rob stereotypes of their power, and they look to India when Caribbean pasts prove too painful.

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