AfricaNSFThe Research University (TRU)

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Migration, Transitionalism and expressive culture in Yoruba Churches: University of Chicago

Andrew Apter

[email protected]

This dissertation research project by an anthropologist at the University of Chicago examines how a dispersed Nigerian community maintains its Yoruba cultural identity through ritual performances of religious music in African as well as U.S. churches. The research focuses on the changes in cultural practices and transnational identities of Nigerian migrants through the performance of music, dance, and oratory in churches in Lagos and Chicago. The objectives of this ethnographic research are to describe and analyze the formal characteristics and aesthetic values of Yoruba church music, and to compare the effects of migration on local identities and practices. The methods to be used include participant observation, collection of demographic data, life histories, and migration profiles through surveys and interviews, and detailed ethno-musicological analysis of religious ceremonies. Through careful ethnographic study of the local as well as transnational networks produced through musical performance, this project will advance our understanding of the relationship between cultural and economic processes of transnationalism and globalization. Methodologically, the research will contribute to anthropological studies of music and ritual by focusing on the ways in which music structures and is structured by other ritual modes. Finally, the study will explicate the meanings of the term "diaspora" as a social scientific concept as well as a lived experience. In addition to contributing to the education of a young social scientist, the research will advance our knowledge of this region of Africa, and improve our understanding of how migrants preserve and modify their culture in both originating and receiving societies

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