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The Recontextualization of African Music in The United States: A Case Study of Umoja African Arts Company

Mundundu, Anicet Mudimbenga (2005) The Recontextualization of African Music in The United States: A Case Study of Umoja African Arts Company. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is about the opportunities and challenges posed by the presentation and interpretation of African music performances by African immigrants in Western contexts in general and the United States in particular. The study focuses on the experience of the Umoja African Arts Company, a Pittsburgh based repertory dance ensemble that performs music and dance from various parts of Africa. Although much has been observed on the contribution of Africa to the development of the American music and dance experience, there is a growing interest among African scholars to question the relevance, impact and the analysis of the emerging efforts of new African immigrants in the promotion of African music in changing contexts overseas where creative individuals have to reconfigure new ways of interpreting and presenting cultural resources to diverse audiences. Therefore, this study on the recontextualization of African music in America investigates not only the rationale and the justification for the creation of African performing groups such as Umoja, but also the choices in performance practice in light of their knowledge and understanding of the norms of African traditions as well as the manner in which they transcend the boundaries of ethnicity in their presentation. The study recognizes the factors and historical antecedents that make the creation, the maintenance, and the success of professional African performing troupes such as Umoja in the United States possible, in particular the role of colleges and universities in the teaching and appreciation of African music, the influx over the past decades of Africans from various countries supplying performers capable of forming music and dance repertory groups, and the growing interest of Americans in what is commonly referred to as World Music that engages audiences to experiment with new sounds and aesthetics. Naturally, the creation and development of Umoja was built on a legacy of the Pittsburgh's experience in the promotion of music diversity, the contribution of the African American and other African communities to the cultural life of the city, as well as the financial and administrative support systems provided by the State of Pennsylvania to advance multiculturalism in education and community development.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mundundu, Anicet Mudimbengaanicet@pitt.eduANICET
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairNketia, J H Kwabena
Committee CoChairDavis, Nathan Tndavis@pitt.eduNDAVIS
Committee MemberEuba, Akin Oaeuba@pitt.eduAEUBA
Committee MemberRonsenblum, Matthewrosenblu@pitt.eduROSENBLU
Date: 3 June 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 18 April 2005
Approval Date: 3 June 2005
Submission Date: 18 April 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Company; Music and meaning; Music and Dance; Umoja African Arts
Other ID:, etd-04182005-171833
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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