Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

“Mandela went to China…and India too”: Musical cultures of childhood in South Africa
by Emberly, Andrea, Ph.D., University of Washington, 2009, 333; 3377342
Abstract (Summary)

The cultural landscape of South Africa is reflected in the songs and games of young children whose music often embodies the social and political history of the world around them. My research with young children in the Limpopo province of South Africa is indicative of how children of similar ages identify with the idea of South Africa as a nation and how children use music as an educational tool to engage with their social and cultural identities.

This dissertation examines how music, education and the media impact the culture of childhood in South Africa and draws on the political and social history of South Africa that is enmeshed in the musical education of children today. The purpose of the study is to understand how young children utilize and experience music as a tool to explore, and consequently educate themselves in relationship to their social and cultural histories. Based on scholarship that bridges the fields of music education, sociology, child development, media studies and ethnomusicology, this dissertation aims to outline how children's musical cultures are not mere copycats of adult musical systems, but rather intricate memes, or units of cultural information, that are propagated and sustained within the culture of childhood.

Contributing to an understanding of the role of music in children's lives in Limpopo, this dissertation examines how music contributes to identity formation in childhood. This process is explored through an examination of local, national and global influences on the musical language of childhood in South Africa. From handclapping songs to traditional music, from commercials to programs such as Takalani Sesame, the musical worlds of children in Limpopo give voice to an understanding of how children engage with and sustain unique musical cultures.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schuyler, Philip
School: University of Washington
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 70/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Music, Music education, South African Studies, South Asian Studies
Keywords: Childhood, Children, Media, Music, Musical cultures, Pedi, South Africa, Venda
Publication Number: 3377342
ISBN: 978-1-109-39584-6
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