Echoes of Home: The Diasporic Performer and the Quest for "Armenianness"

Title: Echoes of Home: The Diasporic Performer and the Quest for "Armenianness"
Authors: Turabian, Michael
Date: 2012
Abstract: Current scholarship recognizes that music is a powerful channel that can manifest individual identity. But such research takes for granted music as a symbol of collective cultural identity, and, therefore, neglects examining how music in general, but musical performance in particular, functions to produce and reproduce a society at large. Indeed, what is missing is a rigorous understanding of not only how the act of performing forms collective identity, but also how it acts as an agency, indeed, perhaps the only agency that enables this process. As Thomas Turino suggests, externalized musical practice can facilitate the creation of emergent cultural identities, and help in forming life in new cultural surroundings. The present thesis examines the dynamics between cultural identity and music from the perspective of the performing musician. By examining musical situations in the context of the Armenian – Canadian diaspora, I will show how performers themselves both evoke feelings of nostalgia for the homeland and maintain the traditions of their culture through the performance event, while simultaneously serving as cultural ambassadors for the Armenian – Canadian community. My thesis outlines four key themes that are crucial in understanding the roles of musicians in Armenian culture. They are tradition bearer, educator, cultural ambassador, and artisan. As boundaries between peoples and nations progressively blur, I conclude that performance proves a vital medium where a search for national identity can occur, frequently resulting in the realization of one’s ethnic identity. Ultimately, without the labors of the performing musician, music would be unable to do the social work that is necessary in forming cultural, social, or even personal identities.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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