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In Touch with the Earth? Musical Instruments, Gender and Fertility in the Bolivian Andes

Henry Stobart
Ethnomusicology Forum
Vol. 17, No. 1, 'Sounds of Power': Musical Instruments and Gender (Jun., 2008), pp. 67-94
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20184606
Page Count: 28
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In Touch with the Earth? Musical Instruments, Gender and Fertility in the Bolivian Andes
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Abstract

This essay discusses beliefs and practices concerning gender, musical instruments and vocal performance in rural communities of northern Potosí, in the Bolivian Andes. While instrumental performance is a male preserve, critical to the construction and expression of manhood, it is also argued that much value is ascribed to women's singing and creation of song poetry. It is further suggested that women's exclusion from instrumental performance should not necessarily be understood in terms of subordination, but approached within broader models and contexts of gender relations. This involves exploring gendered aspects of fertility, llama husbandry, seasonality, the cosmos and the landscape, leading to an examination of courtship, androgyny, notions of 'marked' and 'unmarked' gender, and the possibility of multiple gender and degrees of gendering.

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