Personalizing Tradition: Surinamese Maroon Music and Dance in Contemporary Urban Practice

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Personalizing Tradition: Surinamese Maroon Music and Dance in Contemporary Urban Practice

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Title: Personalizing Tradition: Surinamese Maroon Music and Dance in Contemporary Urban Practice
Author: Campbell, Corinna Siobhan
Citation: Campbell, Corinna Siobhan. 2012. Personalizing Tradition: Surinamese Maroon Music and Dance in Contemporary Urban Practice. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Through comparing the repertoires, presentational characteristics, and rehearsal procedures of Surinamese Maroon culture-based performance groups within Paramaribo, I outline the concept of personalizing tradition. This is based on the premise that differing social and performative practices lead to different understandings of the same performance genre, and that culture-based collectives, like those discussed here, mobilize tradition in order to fulfill a variety of social needs and aspirations. Their personalizing practices lead to embodied understandings of a variety of concepts, among them tradition, culture, professionalism, and cosmopolitanism. Through learning and presenting this composite of physical significations, performers generate visual and sonic representations of Maroon cosmopolitanism, thereby articulating aspects of the lived realities of Maroons whose life experiences diverge from the most commonly circulated characterizations of Maroon society—namely a population isolated from (or even incapable of comprehending) cosmopolitan and national technologies, aesthetic forms, and knowledge systems. Borrowing from jazz discourse, I posit that satisfaction and social poetic proficiencies arise from performers’ adeptness at playing the changes, in other words their capacities to understand the changing social circumstances in which they are acting and selecting expressive gestures that compliment those circumstances. The concept of playing the changes helps initiate a turn away from assessments of right or wrong ("real" or "made up") and focus instead on the ability to portray oneself to one’s best advantage, come what may. Finally, I demonstrate the advantages of pursuing an integrated approach to performance analysis, in which the study of musical and choreographic elements of performance are examined in combination.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10344924
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