Singing for Survival in the Highlands of Cambodia: Tampuan Revitalization of Music as Cultural Reflexivity

Sponsored By:
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
8 pages
This research highlights one example of ethnic minority community members in the highlands of Cambodia who are actively using their traditional music for inter-generational communication of new information, especially to older members of the community who have always depended on oral means of communication. It looks at agency of community members and demonstrates how the revitalization of music has become a site of contesting not only outside influences such as nationalization but also as a site which contests the preservation of culture as something static, homogeneous, and essentialized. Community members are collectively composing and engaging with new songs using their own music system in new contexts that assist the overall community to survive through creatively teaching and promoting vernacular literacy, AIDS prevention, and approaches for adapting to other dramatic changes that are taking place in their everyday life. In looking at how music not only reflects culture but also creates culture this study applies sociolinguistic theory of language revitalization to music and culture shift and endangerment. While well-intentioned ‘cultural preservation’ can have a variety of benefits it can also divert valuable time, energy, and resources away from activities that actually contribute to the sustainable maintenance of cultural vitality, or rather, to the continuing cultivation and creation of culture. Music creativity (added later) can provide a special medium of cultural reflexivity that is nested in community relationships for providing continuity in the midst of change thus decreasing marginalization of ethnic minority groups while allowing for language and cultural vitality, community solidarity, and survival in a rapidly changing world.
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Minority and National Relations
Indigenous minorities
Cultural Vitality
Cultural Reflexivity
Creating Culture
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Relation Text:
Ursula Hemetek, eds., Music and Minorities in Ethnomusicology: Challenges and Discourses from Three Continents. Institut für Volksmusikforschung und Ethnomusikologie. Pages 95-103. 9783902153067
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