Ancientness and Traditionality: Cultural Intersections of Vocal Music and History in the Republic of Georgia

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Drawing on varied sources and personal fieldwork, data suggests the use of Georgian traditional music as a way for modern Georgians to reclaim and re-imagine the past. The history of Georgia and Georgian perspectives of history both gives context for the music and illustrates many modern Georgians' sense of being under siege. Within Georgian ethnomusicology and within the dominant Georgian culture itself, two concepts, "traditionality" and "ancientness," play prominent roles in perspectives of Georgian traditional vocal music and identity formation. After describing traditionality and ancientness in the Georgian context, we explore several roles they play in the formation of Georgian identity. Many current Georgians, in choosing to practice traditionality with their musical performances and perceptions, draw close to their imagined, idealized past. Furthermore, ancientness of Georgian traditional vocal music helps defend the border against the "theoretical other" - whether geographic neighbors or historical oppressors - through difference-making.



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