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Locating Affinity and Making Meaning: Gamelan(ing) in Scotland and Hawai‘i.

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Title:Locating Affinity and Making Meaning: Gamelan(ing) in Scotland and Hawai‘i.
Authors:Strohschein, Heather A.
Contributors:Music (department)
Date Issued:May 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:This dissertation explores the potential of affinity through close work with two community gamelan ensembles: Naga Mas in Glasgow, Scotland and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Javanese Gamelan Ensemble (UHJGE) in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Through ethnographic fieldwork and musical analysis, I offer a detailed examination of how people in Western countries create new contexts for Javanese gamelan by incorporating it into their life stories—narratives individuals tell about themselves to explain personal values and motivations. It is through life stories that gamelan members construct systems of coherence, varied connections that make their involvement in—and indeed, the very fact of—gamelan outside of Indonesia make sense. These filaments of coherence bind together to present a more nuanced interpretation of affinity.
Community groups like Naga Mas and the UHJGE have been overlooked in ethnomusicological scholarship in part because of their designation as affinity communities. I argue for a reexamination of this term as it has been inadequately defined and not given as much attention as other categorizations of community. Without theorizing affinity communities, we lose out on understanding how these groups of individuals function, how they perceive authenticity, appropriation, and agency in the 21st century, and where true affinity and community lie.
Because Mark Slobin’s definition of affinity intercultures has become the standard within ethnomusicological and cultural scholarship, many scholars do not investigate beyond surface understanding of the term affinity. Likewise, a constructed ethnomusicological gamelan grand narrative has historically discouraged scholarly interest in these groups. Close work with current and former members of Naga Mas and the UHJGE reveals, however, various dimensions of
affinity—much more than choice and desire assumed by previous research—as well as a rich, mostly untapped fount of music, behaviors, histories, and idea(l)s contributing to the global gamelan culture. I ultimately propose my own, expanded definition of affinity community and create a framework which includes and outlines the numerous and expandable dimensions of affinity.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Music

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