Session/Séance 6f: IASPM Panel 3 New Postcolonial Frameworks: Theorizing Musical Citizenship

Session/Séance 6f: IASPM Panel 3.  Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 3:30PM-5:30PM, EJB 217
New Postcolonial Frameworks: Theorizing Musical Citizenship
      Moderator: ERIC HUNG (Rider University)


1. Mexican Enough
     Gabriela Jiménez, University of Toronto

This paper concerns musical performances of the nation-state, national sentiment, gender, sexuality, and kinship vis- à-vis the three figures that I am calling the national trinity of Mexican femininity: La Malinche, La Llorona, and La Virgen de Guadalupe. I establish how a set of Mexico City-based performers with whom I consulted through fieldwork – Ali Gua Gua, Bloody Benders, La Bruja y Sus Conjuros, and Cabaret Transchanga – relate in their musical performances to the national trinity of Mexican femininity in order to version the nation-state. Through their musical performances, in other words, these performers engage with and alter prevailing Mexican notions of femininity and feminine sexuality to, in effect, proclaim themselves Mexican enough. This paper is about feeling Mexican and claiming Mexicanness even as predominant notions of mexicanidad (Mexicanness) suggest that non- normatively, gendered and sexually orientated persons are too much and not enough for the nation-state. As such, this paper concerns the potential of holding on, through musical performances, to feelings of loss associated with gender and sexuality as a means to generate iterations of national citizenship and kinship formations that engage with while not necessarily replicating the familial, heteronormative, homosocial, or homonormative nation-state. I draw on feminist theory and queer (of color) critiques that insist that we not forget femininity, feminine sexuality, and mothers. Specifically, I incorporate the femininst, queer (of color) modality known as reparativity (Sedgwick 1996; 1997; 2003; 2007; Eng 2010). Through a psychoanalytic and affective framework that accepts psychic life as socially informed, I consider the ways in which Ali Gua Gua, Bloody Benders, La Bruja y Sus Conjuros, and Cabaret Transchanga use their musical performances to reconcile with, rather than deride, Mexico’s three national mothers. By doing so, I argue, they version the nation-state to their specifications, and, in effect, consensually declare themselves to be Mexican enough.

Keywords: musical performances, gender, sexuality, feminism, queer


2. Musical Borealism (Re)Considered
     Antti-Ville Kärjä, Music Archive, Japa

Quite recently, the notion of ‘Borealism’ has been introduced as a way to account for the construction of the North as a stereotypical region through exoticism, denigration and inferiorisation in relation to the Central European ‘core’values of the West. Through its reference to ontological and epistemological distinctions alongside the North-South axis of power relations, Borealism complements postcolonial theorisation by focussing on the processes of and tensions between banal marginalisation and ennoblement of the North in transnational everyday communication. Of particular significance here are the ways in which circumpolar indigeneity affects and is implicated in the formation of transnational and cosmopolitan connections and thus challenges the conventional political definitions of the North. By and large, the discussion and further theorisation of Borealism in musical situations awaits its progenitors. Thus, it is my aim to outline a general conceptual framework of ‘musical Borealism’. In this task, a pivotal point of refer- ence is constituted by myths of indigeneity and their embeddedness and appropriation in essentialist postcolonial historiography as well as in the postsecular musical marketplace. These mythologised conceptualisations of the North are further linked to the tendency to emphasise the extremities, both in a positive and negative sense. In understandings and presuppositions of all things Northern, the Borealist pendulum, as it were, has swung back and forth between an inhumane dystopia and an enlightened utopia. Moreover, as a response to media exoticisms, forms of auto-exoticisation or ‘internal Borealism’ have arguably emerged whereby, especially in the context of migration, the Northern folkloristic eccentricity is wilfully embodied and even exaggerated in an ironic fashion. With select musical examples from the ‘northern fringes,’ I aim at contributing to this emergent subfield of postcolonial studies.

Keywords: The North, postcolonial studies, indigeneity, historiography, irony


3. The “Celtic Heart of North America”: Musical Citizenship for Tourists of Cape Breton
     Paul Moulton, College of Idaho

Scottish and Irish immigrants form an important part of Canada’s history and identity. The transmitted traditional musics of these groups still play a powerful role in the maintenance of diaspora identities for descendants. In recent decades, the music has also attracted tourists who seek a connection to someplace with seemingly solid roots. The parallel rise in popularity of Celtic music, which is a surprisingly new term and genre, is no coincidence. The genre seems to offer temporary citizenship for these tourists and fans. This paper proposes that the broad genre of Celtic music should be defined as a genre that is diaspora bound and commercialized. Traditional music making in Cape Breton provides a case study for this definition. Analysis of particular musical events reveals ways that the traditional music of Cape Breton (which has direct Scottish roots) has been commodified, commercialized, and marketed as “Celtic music” for diaspora and tourist audiences. Several collaborating tourism entities in Cape Breton recently began promoting the branding of the island as the “Celtic Heart of North America,” and the motives behind this title are examined, along with the poignancy and likely accuracy of the title. Cape Breton relies heavily on tourism, often with a focus on traditional music, and although resident musicians have managed to maintain a fairly traditional presentation and function of the music, their attempts to commercialize it have also caused deviance from traditional practices and functions. The alterations of the ceilidh, in particular, reveal some of the ongoing strain that traditional music of Cape Breton is undergoing as it seeks recognition as the Celtic Heart of North America.

Keywords: Celtic, diaspora, identity, Cape Breton, Scottish


4. Musical Enactments of Acadian National Identity: Past and Present
     Jeanette Gallant, Independent Scholar

Since the end of the nineteenth century, music has served to enact three different understandings of Acadian national identity in response to changing socio-political circumstances in Canada. Focusing on the largest population of Acadians in New Brunswick, this paper looks at how nationalist musical genres have been used to determine notions of belonging in Acadian society in each historical context. First, I examine the Acadians within a Quebec-centred église-nation during the first half of the twentieth century in which ultramontane priests prescribed a religiously defined sense of national identity to Acadians in newly composed patriotic songs. Second, I look at how Acadians used folksong’s historicity to claim space in 1970s New Brunswick as territorial divisions impacted French-English relations during bilingual language reform. Finally, I reflect on how the Acadians – since Canadian constitutional reforms began in the 1980s – have used music to construct a ‘borderless’ sense of nation that publicly opposes Quebec sovereignty. While these processes have extended the Acadians’ boundaries, Acadian national identity is still shaped by language and place and has yet to reconcile Indigenous voices. This paper illustrates music’s ability to redefine both the social relations and identity of colonial minorities in contexts of power.

Keywords: Acadian, music, identity, nationalism, Canada



Friday Schedule | Programme - vendredi
(Session 6 | Séance 6)

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