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Other titles in the Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology series:

In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants


In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The workers who migrate from Lesotho to the mines and cities of neighboring South Africa have developed a rich genre of sung oral poetryand#8212;word musicand#8212;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.

Book News Annotation:

The origins of this work go back to 1978, when the author, a professor of social anthropology, was expelled from apartheid-ruled South Africa. In Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa and depends on it for jobs, resources, and supplies, he found rich veins of cultural commentary and historical metaphor in the music of migrant laborers. His continuing fieldwork--recording impromptu performances in likely and unlikely settings from parking lots to his own home--is intended to show social scientists and historians that performance is an indispensable resource for understanding processes and events in southern Africa. With two appendixes, b&w photos, and an 11-page bibliography. Paper edition (unseen), $18.95.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

David B. Coplan is associate professor of social anthropology at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of In Township Tonight: South Africa's Black City Music and Theatre.

Table of Contents



Orthographic Note

Ch. 1: "Hyenas Do Not Sleep Together": The Interpretation of Basotho Migrants' Auriture

Ch. 2: "The Mouth of a Commoner Is Not Listened To": Power, Performance, and History

Ch. 3: "Greetings, Child of God!": Generations of Travelers and Their Songs

Ch. 4: "An Initiation Secret Is Not Told at Home": The Making of a Country Traveler

Ch. 5: "These Mine Compounds, I Have Long Worked Them": Auriture and Migrants' Labors

Ch. 6: "I'd Rather Die in the Whiteman's Land": The Traveling Women of Eloquence

Ch. 7: "My Heart Fights with My Understanding": Bar Women's Auriture and Basotho Popular Culture

Ch. 8: "Eloquence Is Not Stuck on Like a Feather": Sesotho Aural Composition and Aesthetics

Ch. 9: "Laughter Is Greater than Death": Migrants' Songs and the Meaning of Sesotho

Appendix One

Appendix Two




Product Details

The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants
Coplan, David B.
University Of Chicago Press
Anthropology - Cultural
Composers & Musicians - Country & Folk
Sotho (African people) -- Music.
Music -- Lesotho -- History and criticism.
Biography-Composers and Musicians
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Edition Description:
Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
8 halftones
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » Ethnomusicology
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology

In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants New Hardcover
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