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SURVIVING MATERIAL POVERTY BY EMPLOYING CULTURAL WEALTH: PUTTING MUSIC IN THE SERVICE OF COMMUNITY IN HAITI

Rebecca Dirksen
Yearbook for Traditional Music
Vol. 45 (2013), pp. 43-57
DOI: 10.5921/yeartradmusi.45.2013.0043
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5921/yeartradmusi.45.2013.0043
Page Count: 15
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SURVIVING MATERIAL POVERTY BY EMPLOYING CULTURAL WEALTH: PUTTING MUSIC IN THE SERVICE OF COMMUNITY IN HAITI
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Abstract

This article juxtaposes popular constructions of Haiti's economic poverty against its lauded cultural richness in order to examine how musickings can affect material realities. In Haiti, a rising “consciousness of poverty” can be traced through musical texts over the past half-century, and consciousness-raising songs increasingly accompany non-musical labour. Namely, one hip-hop group from a marginalized Port-au-Prince neighbourhood maintained a long-term trash collection project, encouraging community participation with socially engaged song lyrics. Such socio-musical engagement can be seen as cultural action, and demonstrates how music, used to respond to conditions of poverty, has flowed into domains where the solutions sought have typically been economic in nature.

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