A Confluence of Streams: Music and Identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Anderson, Harold Atwood
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This dissertation explores identity and musical performance in New Zealand. I investigate how music and performance play a part in the formation of persistent identities -- how momentary activities metamorphose into more fixed "traditional" practices, and how music impacts collective definition of group identity. I define "persistent identities" as those that continue despite changes in place, time and life stage. In musical performances, repertoires and canons, we witness the formation of "new" identities: mutations, exten¬sions, or adaptations of traditional identities in response to changing circumstances. I theorize connections between traditional and contemporary practices as expressions of functional or processual persistence. New Zealand's bicultural framework (formed between indigenous Māori and descendants of their European counterparts) forms an appropriate site for formation of new identities. The country comprises a manageable geographic area for application of a hybrid ethno¬graphic/social-historical method, and its political structure affords a high level of visi¬bility, empowerment, and "ownership," particularly for Pacific immigrants by allow¬ing them to retain a sense of "indigeneity." The situation is not as sanguine for other groups, including refugees and Asian migrants who also aspire to a common nationhood while retaining traditional identities. The extent to which groups succeed or fail is visible in their use of music to achieve a place in public discourse. Māori contemporary music and performance practices including Powhiri (ritual encoun¬ter), Haka (a dance form widely practiced by both Māori and non-Māori), and Taonga Pūoro (traditional instruments and practice, thought extinct but now the subject of a cultur¬ally contested recovery) stand out as sites where diverse groups participate and negotiate identities. I parse performances ethnographically by analyzing choice and usage of materials (idioms, genres, repertoires, etc.), and audience makeup, reception and interaction.