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Music and Identity Politics in Terre-de-Bas, Guadeloupe

Durkopp, Ryan W (2009) Music and Identity Politics in Terre-de-Bas, Guadeloupe. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis explores the ways that music and language in Guadeloupe subvert ideologies of French nationalism in the negotiation of a multi-layered identity. Guadeloupe is a department of France, yet offers a case study that clearly runs counter to Herderian ideas of isomorphic identities—that French people live in France, speak French, and "have" French culture.The negotiation of a multi-layered identity is in part based on the fact that music (compas, zouk, and gwo-ka) and language (Guadeloupean Creole) are championed as non-French cultural artifacts, carrying symbolic weight that affirmins more localized aspects of cultural and political identity.Matters are complicated as Guadeloupeans assert a pan-Caribbean identity through common language, orthography, musical traditions, and a shared perception of sameness. Despite the wide range of cultural practices of members in the region, Guadeloupeans are able to conceptualize a community based upon cultural indexes such as music consumption and language use. The negotiation of identity in Guadeloupe is a constant project with high stakes, as seen in the 44-day strike in January and February 2009. Institutions such as supermarkets, schools, and banks closed their doors in an attempt to resist French hegemony and demand higher pay for the lowest level of workers. After much publicity about the situation French authorities finally acquiesced, yet tensions between France and its former colony are still high. As a result of the historical and recent socio-political movements in the region, the examination of identity politics in Guadeloupe is an extremely rich site of scholarly inquiry. This thesis examines two musical groups on the island of Terre-de-Bas, Melody Vice and Explosion. The bands make use of several strategies that assert localized identities through the regional genre of compas—carnival and festival music that originated in Haiti but that is now consumed throughout the Caribbean. At once French, Guadeloupean, and Saintois, music producers and consumers articulate both pan-Caribbean conceptualizations of identity, as well as more localized forms of identity.Through repertoire, language, instrumentation, and iconography community members are able to negotiate what it means to be a French citizen living in Terre-de-Bas, Guadeloupe.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Durkopp, Ryan Wrwd4@pitt.eduRWD4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeintraub, Andrewanwein@pitt.eduANWEIN
Committee MemberHelbig, Adrianaanh59@pitt.eduANH59
Committee MemberYung, Bellbyun@pitt.eduBYUN
Date: 4 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 April 2009
Approval Date: 4 June 2009
Submission Date: 27 April 2009
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: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Caribbean; Compas; Creole; Guadeloupe; Identity; Language
Other ID:, etd-04272009-162729
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:42
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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