By Keila Diehl
26 b/w photos, 1 map In Echoes from Dharamsala, Keila Diehl makes use of song to appreciate the reports of Tibetans residing in Dharamsala, a city within the Indian Himalayas that for greater than 40 years has been domestic to Tibet's government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama's presence lends Dharamsala's Tibetans a sense of being "in place," yet even as they've got bodily and psychologically developed Dharamsala as "not Tibet," as a brief resting position to which many are not able or unwilling to develop into hooked up. now not unusually, this neighborhood struggles with notions of domestic, displacement, ethnic identification, and assimilation. Diehl's ethnography explores the contradictory realities of cultural homogenization, hybridity, and problem approximately ethnic purity as they're negotiated within the daily lives of people. during this manner, she complicates factors of tradition swap supplied by means of the preferred proposal of "global flow." Diehl's available, soaking up narrative argues that the exiles' specialise in cultural renovation, whereas an important, has contributed to the advance of essentialist principles of what's actually "Tibetan." for that reason, "foreign" or "modern" practices that experience received deep relevance for Tibetan refugees were devalued. Diehl scrutinizes this stress in her dialogue of the refugees' enthusiasm for songs from blockbuster Hindi motion pictures, the recognition of Western rock and roll between Tibetan formative years, and the emergence of a brand new style of contemporary Tibetan song. Diehl's perception into the soundscape of Dharamsala is enriched via her personal studies because the keyboard participant for a Tibetan refugee rock team referred to as the Yak Band. Her groundbreaking learn finds the significance of track as a domain the place reliable and private, previous and new representations of Tibetan tradition meet and the place diversified notions of "Tibetan-ness" are being imagined, played, and debated.
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It also underscores the complexity of the process of innovation, appropriation, and naturalization by which particular sounds, grooves, and timbres—the musical version of which R. Murray Schafer calls a community’s “soundmarks” (1977: 10)—come to be associated with a particular political-geographical-ideological entity. 16 Only a few studies I know of specifically address and ethnographically situate and theorize the aesthetic practices of displaced peoples. These include Naficy’s work on the mediated art (primarily television) being produced and consumed by wealthy Iranian exiles in Los Angeles (1993) and Adelaida Schramm’s brief articles on the musical tastes and practices of Vietnamese refugees in a Philippines refugee camp (1989) and in New Jersey (1986).
23 “Tibetan music” remains virtually synonymous with “Buddhist ritual music” in the minds of both musicologists and Tibetans themselves. Often when I told Tibetans that I was interested in Tibetan folk music, they would respond, “We don’t really have music as such” and suggest that my efforts would be much better spent learning about the rich instrumental traditions of India. In 1979 the editors of a special issue of Asian Music devoted to (mostly sacred) Tibetan music introduced their collection with this observation: Western studies of Tibetan music have only recently begun to shift from a kind of missionary-in-the-cannibal-pot cartoon stereotype of simple nomad folksongs and chaotic ritual noises towards an appreciation of the special forms and functions of music in a unique civilization.
For this reason, this study, which emphasizes the musical tastes and creativity of Tibetan Introduction / 17 refugee youth, poses a challenge to the generally accepted notion that “culture” (however traditionally or radically this concept is defined) is transmitted unidirectionally from older members of a society to the younger generation in “Indian file” (Connerton 1989: 39), a paradigm that effectively denies children and youth agency as cultural innovators. This book, then, is at once a study of youth culture and of youth-in-culture.