Music and the Performance of Identity on Marie-Galante, French Antilles: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Music and the Performance of Identity on Marie-Galante, French Antilles

1st Edition

By Ron Emoff


210 pages

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Marie-Galante is a small island situated in the Caribbean to the south of Guadeloupe. The majority of Marie-Galantais are descendants of the slave era, though a few French settlers also occupy the island. Along with its neighbours Guadeloupe and Martinique, Marie-Galante forms an official département of France. Marie-Galante historically has never been an independent polity. Marie-Galantais express sentiments of being 'deux fois colonisé', or twice colonized, concomitant with their sense of insularity from a global organization of place. Dr Ron Emoff translates this pervasive sense of displacement into the concept of the 'non-nation'. Musical practices on the island provide Marie-Galantais with a means of re-connecting with other significant distant places. Many Marie-Galantais display a 'split-subjectivity', embracing an African heritage, a French association and a Caribbean regionalism. This book is unique, in part, with regard to its treatment of a particular mode of self-consciousness, expressed musically, on a virtually forgotten Caribbean island. The book also combines literary, narrative, historical and musical sources to theorize a postcolonial subsurreal in the French Antilles. The focus of the book is upon kadril dance and gwo ka drumming, two prevalent musical practices on the island with which Marie-Galantais construct unique perceptions of self in relation, specifically, to Africa and France. Based on several extended periods of ethnographic research, the book evokes unique Marie-Galantais views on tradition, historicity, esclavage, nationalism (and its absence) and the local significance of occupying a globally out-of-the-way place. The book will be of interest not only to ethnomusicologists, but also to those interested in cultural and linguistic anthropology, postcolonial studies, performance studies, folklore and Caribbean studies.


'… of interest to scholars, particularly those interested in Caribbean music and diasporic identity… In his book Representing African Music (2003), African musicologist Kofi Agawu exhorts scholars to approach scholarship on African and diasporic music from a postcolonial perspective that gives due attention, thought, and legitimacy to communities and traditions that have previously been ignored or marginalized. Emoff answers Agawu's call by giving voice to the history, musicality, and culture of Marie-Galante. Rather than allowing Marie-Galantais culture to be absorbed into that of Guadeloupe (as is so often the case,) Music and Performance illuminates the legitimate space that Marie-Galantais have carved out for themselves on a small island in the French Antilles.' Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface: stepping out-of-the-way; Introduction: an out-of-the-way island; Tradition and official versions of history; Aimé Césaire, language, and the subsurreal; Gwo Ka drumming and claiming a sound place; Being/not being French: Kadril; Mayoleur, the festival stage, Rastafarianism; Conclusion: histories within histories; Works cited; Index.

About the Author

Ron Emoff, Associate Professor, School of Music and Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University-Newark, USA.

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