CULTURAL SOUNDS AND CONSERVATION TEXTS: Soundscapes of a lost
Dr Jonathan Skinner
This project is an example of cultural reconstruction, a salvage ethnography, of
lost sounds of and from the island.
It is a conservation project digitising and making public some original ‘jumbie
dance’ sound reels from the 1960s courtesy of retired anthropology Professor
Stuart Philpott; the ‘jumbie dance’ is an ancestral trance healing dance now
only performed and sung for tourists.
The sound files support teaching texts used by students (Skinner 2004,
Skinner 2005b) on anthropology and ethnomusicology modules at Queen’s University
Belfast. Furthermore, they are an
active archive on hypermedia modules.
In other words, they are soundscapes from life pre-eruption
This project benefits the students at QUB who study anthropology and ethnomusiciology. It builds upon the work of Dr Suzel Reily who has set up an internet platform on the sounds and sights of John Blacking’s innovative ethnography of the Venda in S. Africa from the 1950s (http://www.qub.ac.uk/VendaGirls); as well as more contemporary soundscapes from Belfast with the ‘Making Music in Belfast Project’ (http://www.qub.ac.uk/sa/resources/Belfast_Project/index.html).
It was John Blacking, the first Professor of Anthropology at The Queen’s University Belfast, who published as an ethnomusicologist pioneering work about the connection between music and the environment (1976). Blacking laid the basis for the study of ethnomusicology when he wrote that cooperation and social interaction are biologically programmed human conditions. They are developed through music and movement - the prerequisites for cognition. Sounds, for example, evoke emotions and feelings, and it is ‘[f]eeling [that is] the catalyst that transforms acquired knowledge into understanding, and so adds the dimension of commitment to action’ (Blacking 1977: 5). Herein lies the connection between ethnomusicology and sustainable development, between the study of sounds and the motivation of community actions such as sustainable practices. This is where the soundscape informs the development-scape. It is through the conservation of the island sounds that we mobilize powerful feelings of continuity and place. We hope that these are harnessed by this project.
Please pass on the details of this website to others, feel free to link to us, and send us materials for inclusion.
Blacking, J. (1976) How Musical is Man?,
Blacking, J. (1977) ‘Towards an Anthropology of the Body’ in, J. Blacking (Ed.)
The Anthropology of the Body,
Defra (2006) ‘Furthering Sustainability: A Step-by-Step Guide for Colleges - The Government' s Sustainable Development Strategy’, http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/sustainable/educpanel/furthering/02.htm, accessed 28th May 2006.
Laderman, C. and M. Roseman (Eds), The
Performance of Healing,
Lave, J. and E. Wenger (1991) Situated
learning: legitimate peripheral participation.
Skinner, J. (2006a) ‘Land and landloss on
Skinner, J. (2006b) ‘Disaster creation in the
Skinner, J. (2005a) ‘Colonising Narratives, Double Consciousness and Barbarian
Writing: Fergus and the Writers’ Maroon of Montserrat’ in, J. Besson & K. Olwig
Skinner, J. (2005b) ‘Interning the serpent: witchcraft, religion and the law on
Skinner, J. (2004) Before the Volcano:
Reverberations of Identity on
Skinner, J. (2003a) ‘Anti-social “social development”? The DFID approach and the
Skinner, J. (2003b) ‘Voyeurs, Voyagers and Disaster Tourism from
Skinner, J. (2000) ‘The eruption of