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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Participant-activist engagement with marginal music brings the ethnomusicologist face to face with choice of subjects, self-reflexivity, and musical value, played out in local power politics. Using phenomenological methods and dialogical processes from two case studies of Tamil Dalit (former outcaste or untouchable) folk music from her fieldwork and filmmaking in India, the author argues that engagement with the meaning and value of marginalized South Asian music forces ethnomusicologists to deconstruct local hegemonies of musical style and ethnomusicology’s contributions to their perpetuation, in fieldwork, teaching content, and academic/community programming. The chapter examines methods (including filmmaking and participant activism) to approach contexts where the oppressed use music to assert identity and cultural politics of revaluation against local hierarchies of musical value that contribute to Dalit Action Theory: that is, politicized agency of the oppressed asserted through the arts, necessitating an activist ethnographic methodology focused on collaboration, dialogue, and reciprocity.

Keywords: participant-activist, dialogical, Dalit Action Theory, self-reflexivity, musical value, filmmaking, South Asia, agency, collaboration, folk music, India

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