Before I begin my analysis, I would just like to say that everyone’s presentations were not only thought provoking, but they provided an immensely large array of diverse music, most of which I have never heard before. I really appreciate all of the time and effort that everyone put in to their individual projects.
For my final reflection, I chose to evaluate Noel’s project, on the way in which music plays a part in the conflict in Uganda, and Amber’s project that furthered evaluated the way in which music played a part in the anti-apartheid movement. I felt that both of these projects touched on many of the same issues, providing insight into the ways in which music can change the outcome of conflict.
Noel’s presentation on the way in which music is used in the Displacement camps as a way to reintegrate previous members of the LRA back into the communities that arose within these Displacement camps. What I found to be the most intriguing was the way in which music programs have become part of the Acholi people’s lives. Not only is music part of the modern lives these people lead, but it was also a significant part of their lives previous to this Civil War, part of their cultural identity. Throughout this course, there was often mention, and ensuing discussion, regarding the way in which music plays a part in one’s identity, as well as the concept of appropriation. What I found to be interesting regarding the Acholi people’s usage of traditional music in a modern sense was that they have begun to reintegrate traditional dances and music, the ones that have survived, into their modern world with in the Displacement camps. I found their practice of a traditionally regal dance in a general setting to be extremely interesting. Rather than have the dance die off completely, the Acholi people seem to be reevaluating the traditional purpose that some of these dances were used for, and adapting them to their modern setting. The same could be said of the surviving music. These people are struggling to survive, to connect those who are choosing to reintegrate into the community after leaving the LRA, and by providing them with common ground, through music and dance, they seem to be accomplishing that.
While Amber’s presentation does not focuses on the ability of music and dance to help bring back a culturally identity to a people displaced, she spoke to the way in which music can bring people together during a time of conflict. Although her presentation in class centered around the way in which American artists used music to persuade people against their participation in Sun City, there was still a sense of the power of music. The music video that Amber showed exemplified this very idea. While one may not recognize every musical artist who performed “Sun City”, one would have recognized at least a few artists, and been able to understand the lyrics. By accompanying these lyrics with images of the atrocities occurring in South Africa, these artists were able to protest with their voices. One of the most important aspects to many Americans when it comes to defining the American culture is music. The ability for American artists to use their music, to play off of a country’s cultural identity, in order to stand up for what they believe is right, provides for an example of the way in which music can aid in the fight against conflict.
Both of these presentations presented various ways in which music can change history. Whether music is bringing back something of tradition and transforming it to the modern times, or using music as a means of geo-political propaganda, music has been a source of ammunition against conflicts all over the world. Noel and Amber did a fantastic job in emphasizing, evaluating, and discussing this phenomenon in both their in class presentations and their papers.