Monday, October 18, 2004

How it all begins...

Ok, so in typical conservative style, after spending all weekend researching how this all works, and what is available, and trying to decide whether I will be able to keep it going, I am finally starting my blog. Its really all about keeping track of my research, both online and off. You see, despite all the negative publicity, I still want to be an academic. Even worse, I want to be an ethnomusicologist, here in South Africa, where those who make money out of doing valuable work in this field are few and far between, and heavily marginalised by those who do less than valuable work in the field, and still manage to make all the money.

Any way, here goes.

I am working on, at present, a small research project, which I hope to grow into a much larger PhD and beyond over the next seven years. For now, it is called "Singing South African-ness" (a pilot study of which is about to be published in a new Journal: Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa) and deals with the construction of identities among youth choirs in South Africa.

I am therefore interested in just about anything to do with identity, Sub-culture, race and the construction of whiteness, and choral music. Keep adding to this list as appropriate, I think, because I keep discovering new interests (blogs, for example)

first couple of links:
Inter-cultural relationships work best when both sides treat each other as equals

Postmodern Approaches to Gender, Sex, and Sexuality - A Critique

both from Anthroblog, who I was reading when I finally decided this could be useful.

so... Here's to possibilities

1 comment:

choirgirl said...

Regarding the first link in this post:
"For instance, Black English with its distinct grammar and structure is a legitimate and structured language variety spontaneously spoken within certain Black American communities, yet it is considered "inferior" by the general public. It has been stigmatized as the language of the Black underclass and "low-brow popular culture," associated primarily with hip hop and rap music. Essentially, it has moved beyond slang to a jargon of the ghetto." [it is amazing how easily this happens, and how unaware we are of our own prejudices. When I interview people, I attempt to be as unbiased, and unjudgemental as possible, and yet I form so many oppinions based on how they speak, or write.]
"This negative perception of Black English can be understood as a ready-to-sign cultural contract. Those who speak Black English believe they have to sound "White" and "talk proper" in order to avoid racially based treatment in the workplace or schools, according to Jackson." [it would be interesting to do an analysis of several interviews, or conversations in different registers of English, and see what each variety of language emphasizes. Surely the different registers must develop to a certain extent out of a desire to communicate different things.]
""The second and most common type of cultural contract is the partial or quasi-completed cultural contract, where people from different cultures or groups feel their identities are partially valued, so they can maintain portions of their cultural worldviews without fear of penalty," Jackson notes. "The concern is that code switching, or changing ways of behaving and talking, becomes a very important survival tool with this contract. Because one's identity is only partially valued and appreciated, it keeps an individual guessing whether his or her values are the right ones to enact at any given moment." [This must happen a lot in interview situations, and in Universities, and hence, University choirs. I person may then be expressing a very incomplete, or linguistically coloured version of their real oppinions and thoughts, simply because they are using a less familiar linguistic code.]
"In another instance, within academia, professors will deliberately avoid addressing racial issues both in their classes and textbooks. For many, if not most, White students, this likely presents no problem because they either believe racial concerns are not important or they feel they are unprepared to discuss them. African-American, Latino and Asian students, on the other hand, benefit from discussions of race that allow them to see their proper place in American history and culture." [As an interviewer and researcher, it is very difficult to know how to approach questions concerning racial issues. I worry that I may be forcing certain answers from white students who feel compelled to express the 'politically correct' view, no matter what they feel, and I am afraid to offend non-white students, by being too forward, or alienate them by approaching the matter too delicately]
"The Penn State researcher notes, "Co-created cultural contracts transcend mere tolerance, which can amount to little more than putting up with people and cultures we personally dislike. Co-created cultural contracts also go beyond color-blindness, which, like tolerance, fails to truly affirm and welcome cultural differences." [Perhaps this is why participant observation is so worthwhile. By taking the trouble to learn and participate in another person's culture, you are showing them that you value it. On the other hand, I am always afraid of unwittingly patronising someone]