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Ozah, Marie Agatha (2008) ÉGWÚ ÀMÀLÀ: WOMEN IN TRADITIONAL PERFORMING ARTS IN OGBARULAND. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Within the complex dynamics of gender relationships and roles among African peoples, women often exercise power through song and dance. Such is the case among the women of Ogbaruland in southern Nigeria who, in their performance of the dance drama Égwú Àmàlà , act as custodians of knowledge and tradition and as transmitters of culture.Apart from being a repository of information about artistic traditions, the genre also documents and enacts the history and culture of the Ogbaru people. Égwú Àmàlà, which is the subject of my dissertation, is the most popular of all Ogbaru women dance genres. The term Égwú Àmàlà literally means "paddle dance" or "paddle drama," but it is often referred to as the "mermaid dance" or égwú mmili, that is, "water dance" because of its ritualistic associations with Onye-mmili, the water divinity. This genre is predominantly performed by women of all ages, with men playing secondary roles such as òpì(gourd horn) player and paddlers of canoes when the genre is performed in the river setting.My study of Égwú Àmàlà will add to a small but growing body of literature demonstrating how gender, a locus classicus for debates in contemporary scholarship, relates to other domains of culture such as musical performance, and how gender constructions can be articulated as well as negotiated in the genre and through the performing arts in general. Since the origin and performance of Égwú Àmàlà revolves around rituals and water, this dissertation also discusses the religious dimensions of the genre, stressing the importance of water to the dance, to the Ogbaru people and to African traditional religion as well. Considering the fact that women have for decades preserved Égwú Àmàlà, which epitomizes the culture and traditions of the Ogbaru people, the present investigation represents a significant contribution to ethnomusicological, gender, and cultural studies.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ozah, Marie
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairEuba, Olatunji Akinaeuba@pitt.eduAEUBA
Committee CoChairAgawu, Kofi
Committee MemberPlotnicov, Leonardlenplot@pitt.eduLENPLOT
Committee MemberLewis, Mary Slsm@pitt.eduLSM
Committee MemberDavis, Nathan Tndavis@pitt.eduNDAVIS
Date: 16 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 March 2008
Approval Date: 16 June 2008
Submission Date: 21 April 2008
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
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: Africa; Dance; Gender; Music; Religion; Women
Other ID:, etd-04212008-142732
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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