The Musical Gift: Sonic Generosity in Post-War Sri Lanka

ISBN : 9780190912024

Jim Sykes
296 ページ
156 x 235 mm

The Musical Gift tells Sri Lanka's music history as a story of giving between humans and nonhumans, and between populations defined by difference. Author Jim Sykes argues that in the recent past, the genres we recognize today as Sri Lanka's esteemed traditional musics were not originally about ethnic or religious identity, but were gifts to gods intended to foster protection and/or healing. Noting that the currently assumed link between music and identity helped produce the narratives of ethnic difference that drove Sri Lanka's civil war (1983-2009), Sykes argues that the promotion of connected music histories has a role to play in post-war reconciliation. The Musical Gift includes a study of how NGOs used music to promote reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and it contains a theorization of the relations between musical gifts and commodities. Eschewing a binary between the gift and identity, Sykes claims the world's music history is largely a story of entanglement between both paradigms. Drawing on fieldwork conducted widely across Sri Lanka over a span of eleven years—including the first study of Sinhala Buddhist drumming in English and the first ethnography of music-making in the former warzones of the north and east, this book brings anthropology's canonic literature on "the gift" into music studies—while drawing on anthropology's recent "ontological turn" and "the new materialism" in religious studies.


Preface & Acknowledgements
Note on Transliteration
Supplementary Materials
Part One: Finding Musical Gifts
Introduction: For a Musicology of Karma and Reincarnation
Chapter One: Sonic Generosity: Beyond Secularism and Conflict in Music Studies
Part Two: Musical Giving as Protection and Destruction
Checkpoint: Musical Gifts and the Movement of Ghosts
Chapter Two: Berav? Secrecy and the Hoarding of Musical Gifts
Chapter Three: Sri Lankan Tamil Musical Giving: A Cartography
Chapter Four: Social Relations and the Conversion of Sonic Money
Part Three: The Discursive Erasure of Musical Giving
Chapter Five: Beyond the Musicology of Disaster: War, Tsunami, Post-War
Checkpoint: The Malays Who Sing in Six Languages
Chapter Six: The Island Space: Music, Buddhism, and the Sinhalas
Part Four: Rediscovering Musical Giving
Checkpoint: Re-Connecting Sinhala and Tamil Musical Cultures
Conclusion: The Regulation of Happiness in Post-War Sri Lanka


Jim Sykes is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is in sound and music studies, religious studies, labor history/capitalism, and conflict studies, focusing to date on Sri Lanka and Singapore. With Gavin Steingo, he is the editor of Remapping Sound Studies (forthcoming, Duke University Press). As a drummer, he has recorded and toured widely with numerous experimental rock musicians from Brooklyn, NY (Marnie Stern, Grooms, Parts and Labor, Martin Bisi, Jeff Zeigler).