Drums, Raps, and Song-Games: An Ethnography of Music and Peacebuilding in the Afro-Colombian Town of Libertad (Sucre)

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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
Throughout the world, violent conflicts negatively impact economies, cultural practices, and the social relations within societies. Focusing on a case study of a cooperative national and community effort that highlights musical and traditional cultural practices, this dissertation explores programs aimed at peacebuilding in post-conflict societies. The Afro-Caribbean town of Libertad, Colombia, suffered violent ruptures during a rightwing paramilitary occupation between 1996 and 2004. In 2007, the Colombian national government began working with community members to implement a Collective Reparation Plan to assist in rebuilding the community and its social fabric. Based on local beliefs that cultural and artistic practices play key roles creating frameworks for collective action and community-building, they designed projects to revive traditional musics and cultural expressions as well as to create new works that resonate more directly with the youth. The revival of traditional funerary wake games and the construction of the musical genre bullenrap—a fusion of hip-hop and local bullerengue—exemplify local strategies for ameliorating problems such as the loss of traditional knowledges and intergenerational tensions in creative and nonviolent ways. Liberteño artists have built frameworks for solidarity and education through participatory performances that empower community members and address local issues through empathy. Based on long-term ethnographic research, this dissertation argues that these programs have been successful because they: 1) build upon a long history of using cultural expressions to foster community solidarity and collective action; 2) foster collective initiatives of local leaders and their social capital; 3) embody the creative resilience of artists in managing local cultural resources towards social ends, and 4) maximize the participatory approach within government programs, advocating sensitivity to local needs. Contributing to the literature in ethnomusicology and peacebuilding, this dissertation offers a methodology for research and design of programs that recognize the transformative potentials of musical and cultural practices in post-conflict scenarios in Colombia and around the world.
Thesis (Ph.D.) - Indiana University, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2018
Afro-Colombian culture, collective reparation, communal cohesion, expressive culture, local music, peacebuilding
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Doctoral Dissertation