Moving Together: Sameness, Difference, and Ownership in the Seattle-Guinean Drum and Dance Scene

by James Byron Morford

Institution: University of Washington
Year: 2018
Keywords: Djembe; Guinea; Ownership and Belonging; Ritual Studies; Sameness and Difference; Tourism; Music; African studies; Dance; Music
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2219050
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/40946


In this dissertation, I use interpretive lenses from ethnomusicology, as well as from tourism and ritual studies, to analyze data derived from two years of ethnographic research in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and in Guinea, West Africa, principally in two contexts of participation: weekly dance classes in Seattle and multi-week drum and dance camps in Guinea. This dissertation seeks to address controversies, understood to mean those aspects about which broad interest exists among participants, but not broad consensus. Such controversies include: romantic relationships between foreign tourists and tour staff in camps in Guinea; the generation of community in dance classes in Seattle; musical authenticity and authority in Seattle; segregation, control, and the manipulation of interpretation during tourism in Guinea; and the touristification of an ethically-problematized ritual in rural Guinea. In proximity to these contested people, practices, and processes, I frame the scene in terms of sameness and difference, following participants in foregrounding issues surrounding ownership, identity, power, agency, and belonging. I find that, while difference appeared to dominate many aspects of the scene, it was the interaction between sameness and difference that bound the scene together across geographies and infused it with value and risk for participants. This interaction between sameness and difference generated the terms and conditions under which participation in drum and dance practice could lead to personal transformation and social cohesion.Advisors/Committee Members: Dudley, Shannon (advisor).