Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exchanges of song Migration, gender, and nation in Nepali dohori performance
by Stirr, Anna, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2009, 326; 3393605
Abstract (Summary)

This is an ethnographic study of how gendered forms of intimacy are linked to changing conceptions of the nation, through the lens of a folkloric popular music genre known as dohori song. With roots in the rural courtship traditions of various ethnic groups, dohori has become emblematic of Nepali national identity through the last three decades, promoted by the state and private music companies. As the social and economic effects of violence in rural areas led more and more people to migrate within and outside of Nepal, then return to their villages in times of peace, the resulting circulation of people, media and practices is contributing to a redefinition of what it means to be a gendered subject belonging to a Nepali nation. I approach dohori as one set of cultural and expressive means by which Nepali migrants address the changes in their everyday lives, and nostalgically construct a version of the nation rooted in the rural hills.

I look ethnographically at dohori's different performance contexts and the changes in meaning that the genre undergoes as people travel among them, blurring the boundaries between performer and audience, producers and consumers. A central premise of this dissertation is that musical sound and aspects of bodily presentation are interrelated with language as important sites for the enactment of social position and values through performance. I look at changes in forms of exchange and the material stakes of performance to examine the politics of how not only words, but also sounds and socially emplaced bodies, change in significance as they move through and influence various contexts. Through attention to how expressive practices are appropriated in constructing national culture, this study contributes to an emerging ethnographic literature on the connections between migration, gender, national identity, and international discourses on culture and development. In this way, this dissertation contributes to the study of how gender, caste, ethnicity, class, and nation are formed through the intimate exchanges that comprise the circulation of people and practices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fox, Aaron, Ochoa, Ana Maria
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Music
Keywords: Dohori, Gender, Migration, Nation, Nepal, Performance, Song
Publication Number: 3393605
ISBN: 978-1-109-60480-1
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