cover of book

In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants
by David B. Coplan
University of Chicago Press, 1994
Paper: 978-0-226-11574-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-11573-3
Library of Congress Classification ML3760.C66 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 782.42162963977

The workers who migrate from Lesotho to the mines and cities of neighboring South Africa have developed a rich genre of sung oral poetry—word music—that focuses on the experiences of migrant life. This music provides a culturally reflexive and consciously artistic account of what it is to be a migrant or part of a migrant's life. It reveals the relationship between these Basotho workers and the local and South African powers that be, the "cannibals" who live off of the workers' labor. David Coplan presents a moving collection of material that for the first time reveals the expressive genius of these tenacious but disenfranchised people.

Coplan discusses every aspect of the Basotho musical literature, taking into account historical conditions, political dynamics, and social forces as well as the styles, artistry, and occasions of performance. He engages the postmodern challenge to decolonize our representation of the ethnographic subject and demonstrates how performance formulates local knowledge and communicates its shared understandings.

Complete with transcriptions of full male and female performances, this book develops a theoretical and methodological framework crucial to anyone seeking to understand the relationship between orality and literacy in the context of performance. This work is an important contribution to South African studies, to ethnomusicology and anthropology, and to performance studies in general.

See other books on: Cannibals | Coplan, David B. | Ethnomusicology | Lesotho | Sotho (African people)
See other titles from University of Chicago Press
Nearby on shelf for Literature on music / History and criticism / Folk, national, and ethnic music: