Music, Health, and Power: Singing the Unsayable in The Gambia, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Music, Health, and Power

Singing the Unsayable in The Gambia, 1st Edition

By Bonnie B. McConnell


162 pages

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Hardback: 9780367312725
pub: 2019-11-11
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780367312732
pub: 2019-11-06
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Music, Health, and Power offers an original, on-the-ground analysis of the role that music plays in promoting healthy communities. The book brings the reader inside the world of kanyeleng fertility societies and HIV/AIDS support groups, where women use music to leverage stigma and marginality into new forms of power.

Drawing on ethnographic research conducted over a period of 13 years (2006–2019), the author articulates a strengths-based framework for research on music and health that pushes beyond deficit narratives to emphasize the creativity and resilience of Gambian performers in responding to health disparities. Examples from Ebola prevention programs, the former President’s AIDS “cure,” and a legendary underwear theft demonstrate the high stakes of women’s performances as they are caught up in broader contestations over political and medical authority.

This book will be of interest to scholars and students of ethnomusicology, medical anthropology, and African studies. The accompanying audio examples provide access to the women’s performances discussed in the text.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgements List of Figures Recorded Selections on the Accompanying Website List of Abbreviations Orthography and Pronunciation 1. Introduction: Music, Health, and Power 2. Women’s Power: Gender, Islam, and Health Performance in The Gambia 3. Singing Teriyaa: Life, Death, and HIV-Stigma 4. "Let’s Insult the Soldier’s Mother": Performative License and Communication 5. When Money Dances: Songs of Health and Wealth 6. Stealing Power: Embodiment and Participation in Kanyeleng Performance 7. "Touch the Drum and They Will Come": Music, Tradition and Communication 8. Beginnings and Endings

About the Author

Bonnie B. McConnell is a lecturer in the School of Music at the Australian National University.

About the Series

SOAS Studies in Music Series

SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General