Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The musical gift: Sound, sovereignty and multicultural history in Sri Lanka
by Sykes, James, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2011, 613; 3460242
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation questions the assumption that there is an inherent link between music and identity. In Part One, I provide an historical anthropology of the global dissemination of identity discourses on the arts and their development on the island nation of Sri Lanka, to demonstrate that the link between music and identity is in some places a thoroughly modern, constructed affair. Then in Part Two, I back up this claim by analyzing an indigenous Sri Lankan musical system in which music is generally not understood by its practitioners to express personal or communal identities. Finally, in Part Three, I turn to the fraught issue of how to locate this Sri Lankan musical system within Sri Lankan history, since it seems impossible to do so without relying on the identity discourses that misunderstand the system's aesthetic values and operations. Noting that Sri Lanka is a country suffering from a history of prolonged communal conflict, the question the dissertation asks is how to write a music history of a nation, without reproducing the narratives of communal division that, besides misinterpreting some indigenous musical systems, also pull some nations apart.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bohlman, Philip V.
Commitee: Collins, Steven, Hoeckner, Berthold, Mason, Kaley, Stokes, Martin
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Cultural anthropology, Music, South Asian Studies, Aesthetics
Keywords: Buddhism, Drumming, Music, Postcolonial studies, Ritual, Sound studies, Sri Lanka
Publication Number: 3460242
ISBN: 978-1-124-71825-5
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