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The Fluidity Of Sukuma Musical Labor Genres

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Chapter Summary

A key conceptual underpinning throughout Sukuma song history is the idea that all Sukuma social networks, whether family clans, chiefdoms, medicinal associations, or specialized musical labor groups, have had a fluid propensity for transmission and exchange of common cultural tropes, what Bourdieu would call transposable dispositions. This concept illustrates how songs have moved so fluidly, from association to association, and from genre to genre, over time. In the precolonial era, joining a voluntary interregional travel-related musical labor association such as the porcupine hunters, the snake hunters, the salt caravaners, or the porters association was an initiation into adulthood, in a culture without formal age-grade or puberty ceremonies. Musical labor songs have had a distinctive inter-textual dimension, as their verses and poetic images from songs of previous generations have been appropriated, and resituated. Genre fluidity is thus a prominent and distinctive feature within Sukuma musical labor practices and performance.

Keywords: genre fluidity; musical labor songs; Sukuma social networks



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