Anthropology

Open Access (free)
Singing or speaking or both?
Håkan Lundström
and
Jan-Olof Svantesson

This chapter provides an overview of research in ethnomusicology on the relation between music and language. The borderland between song and speech is described, and key concepts are defined. Research methods and methods of collaboration are discussed.

in In the borderland between song and speech
Vocal expressions in oral cultures

This book focuses on vocal expressions in the borderland between song and speech. It spans across several linguistic and musical milieus in societies where oral transmission of culture dominates. ‘Vocal expression’ is an alternative word for ‘song’ which is free from bias based on cultural and research-related traditions. The borderland between song and speech is a segment of the larger continuum that extends from speech to song. These vocal expressions are endangered to the same degree as the languages they represent. Perspectives derived from ethnomusicology, prosody, syntax, and semantics are combined in the research, in which performance templates serve as an analytical tool. The focus is on the techniques that make performance possible and on the transmission of these techniques. The performance templates serve to organize the vocal expression of words by combining musical and linguistic conventions. It is shown that all the cultures studied have principles for organizing these parameters; but each does this in its own unique way while meeting a number of basic needs on the part of human society, particularly communal interaction and interaction with the spirit world. A working method is developed that makes it possible to gain qualitative knowledge from a large body of material within a comparatively limited period of time.

Anastasia Karlsson
,
Håkan Lundström
, and
Jan-Olof Svantesson

This chapter deals with a number of vocal expressions in the tradition of the Kammu (or Khmu) people in northern Laos. The analysis of the performance templates shows how they are constructed and that most Kammu vocal genres can be explained by them. Vocal expressions typically include a degree of improvisation, and they are re-created in performance. The results include an overview of the types of interplay between music and language that occur. It is also shown that the two lexical tones in Kammu are handled differently in the various vocal genres.

in In the borderland between song and speech
Open Access (free)
Method, results, and implications
Håkan Lundström
and
Jan-Olof Svantesson

This chapter contains a discussion of the methods used in the book. The results are summarized and their implications are discussed in relation to other research in ethnomusicology and linguistics, as well as to emerging interdisciplinary results. It turned out to be possible to recognize forms of human communication that can be described as vocal expressions in the borderland between song and speech. In addition, it was seen to be feasible to design a method for studying them that leads to new knowledge of this borderland.

in In the borderland between song and speech
Arthur Holmer
and
Håkan Lundström

The chapter deals with Seediq vocal expressions that start with a short motif that is often repeated once and then followed by another motif, which is repeated once etc. This pattern is sometimes called ‘litany form’. The form that results when two persons sing in alternation is called canonic repetition. It is shown that such performances can be understood as being built on performance templates that enable singers to vary their words.

in In the borderland between song and speech
Yasuko Nagano-Madsen
and
Håkan Lundström

In this chapter performances of waka poems (Japan) and ryūka poems (Ryukyu) are approached from the perspective of performance templates, particularly with regard to prosody. It is found that waka performances do not reflect the prosody of the Japanese language, whereas ryūka falls in the second half to end with a downward movement which reflects intonation in the Ryukyuan language.

in In the borderland between song and speech
The enduring legacy of F. G. Bailey

The works of F. G. Bailey (1924‒2020) provide a masterful template for good ethnography: the kind that leads to theoretical insight. Central to this endeavour is Bailey’s ability to conceptually connect the well-described micro-contexts of individual interactions to the macro-context of culture. Bailey’s core concerns – the tension between individual and collective interests, the will to power, how leaders yield and keep power, and the dialectics of social forces which foster both collective solidarity as well as divisiveness and discontent – are themes of universal interest; the beauty of his work lies in bite of his analyses of how these play out in local arenas between real people. Bailey’s ethnographic gaze enables richly thick descriptions of social interactions in which actors recognize the rules of the game, simultaneously deploying creative actions that circumvent those rules in ways that Bailey’s models illuminate. His work provides nuanced, yet explicit road maps to analyzing the different leadership styles of everyday people as well as contemporary leaders: Boris Johnson, Trump, Obama, Putin, Macron, Modi, Kim Jong-un. It is our hope that this volume will inspire new generations of anthropologists to revisit his seminal texts by demonstrating the broad range of research areas in which Bailey’s conceptual and methodological toolkit can be applied. The range of topics and cultures studied in the chapters collected will help new scholars navigate their way through the ethnographic thicket of their own research.

Hindu Nadar identities in urban South India
Sara Dickey

Nadars occupy a uniquely disjunctive set of social positions in southern India. Historically viewed as one of the lowest ranked castes in the region, over the past two centuries they have also become one of the wealthiest. In negotiating identities and social status today, Nadars must balance the honour of their socioeconomic class with the continuing stigma of their caste. Part of this effort involves claims made on history to explain past and present standings. Such claims are especially likely to appear in the recounting of family history. This chapter uses such accounts – which chart movements across both space and hierarchy – to explore urban Hindu Nadars’ discursive strategies for managing disjunctive identities. They range from claiming expulsion from uppermost echelons during ancient regime changes; to acknowledging centuries-old degradation, albeit now overcome by a singular work ethic; to highlighting shared past discrimination with ‘untouchables’ as a radical critique of caste inequalities. Examining embedded class, caste, and religious politics, I consider the potential outcomes, losses, and gains of each strategy. Drawing from Caste and the Economic Frontier, Gifts and Poison and The Kingdom of Individuals, I build on Bailey’s insights into honour and reputation, caste mobility, and collective vs. individual goods.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Felix Girke

F. G. Bailey has likened himself to the fox, who has many ideas, as contrasted to the hedgehog, who has but one (and supposedly defends it with bristling spines). However, this is not to say that there is no coherence in his writings from the 1950s into the 21st century. Over decades, he has developed a sophisticated and ever-refined repertoire of terms and axioms applicable and adaptable for the analysis of social action in general – famously, he was among the first scholars to speak of political ‘arenas’. With his model of actors struggling not only over substantial prizes but also over the very rules of the political game, F. G. Bailey has always remained epistemologically modest, basing his analyses on observed behaviour and plausible inference, culturally grounded but always assuming a very humanistic unity of mankind. His eventual turn towards rhetorical persuasion as a prime vehicle of social action opens a window into his very conception of human nature. Drawing on a thorough reading of F. G. Bailey’s theoretical corpus, this chapter summarizes his proverbial toolkit to demonstrate how the various parts interlock and offer an accessible middle-range approach to interaction and conflict. It ends on a reflection on the position of F. G. Bailey’s work in the patchy history of political anthropology. A discussion of three critics of his approach serves to underline the specific strengths of the toolkit, with its universalist ambitions. Operating at a level of abstraction less fashionable today, as the postmodern drift of political anthropology has rerouted disciplinary interest away from political action to political form and eventually political thought, it might not receive fair and adequate representation in current textbooks, but still remains an inspiring and cohesive contribution to not only interaction, but social theory.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Victor C. de Munck
and
Elisa J. Sobo

Bailey’s prominence in anthropology reflects the unique capacity he had to seamlessly integrate good ethnography with coherent theory. He accomplished this by having a clear and flexible theory of social interaction, a toolkit of methods for synthesizing his findings, and an ability to transform his mind’s eye understandings of social interactions into text. This is no mean feat. To situate Bailey’s contributions, we describe and appraise the growth of the Manchester School of Anthropology under Max Gluckman and the development of the extended case study method. We then interrogate the two anthropological lives of Bailey ‒ one in India and England, the other in the USA, where his growing interest in adapting cognitive anthropology to his own work on leadership styles blossomed. We explore how, through Bailey’s lens, people behave as moral actors adhering to cultural practices signifying normative values, while at the same time being motivated by instrumental and desired personal ends. This is the basic paradigm for everyday life in Bailey’s Bisipara; and it appears to be the basic paradigm for everyday life most anywhere in the world. The introduction concludes with an overview of the 16 chapters that make up this volume. The chapters were written by anthropologists who have been strongly influenced by Bailey (many are either former students or colleagues). The diversity of the chapters, in content and approach, attest to Bailey’s enduring legacy as anthropology moves forward.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality