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The construction of musical identities by Greek Cypriot school children

By Avra Pieridou


This thesis examines the construction of musical identities among Greek Cypriot school children aged nine to twelve. Cyprus provides an interesting case study of musical identity construction. Its geographical, national and cultural environment provides ambiguous, contradictory and fluid national, cultural and musical meanings that are defined by the oppositions of West/Orient and Traditional/Modern, coupled with the country's unresolved political problem. The research compared the music enculturation of Greek Cypriot children within two schools, hence two sites, one urban and one rural. It describes and analyses the children's musical enculturation by exploring the diversity and complexity of their musical identity construction in relation to local and global forces and the effects of the society's Eurocentric ideology on the children's musical practices in relation to the symbolic manipulation of rural versus urban contexts of the country. It investigates the children's behaviours of performing, composing and improvising, and their reception of music in terms of listening, dancing and talking about their musical experiences in relation to local (Cypriot and Greek), Western and global musical cultures. It gathers qualitative data through observation, interviews and the collection of musical products. The findings indicate that Cypriot children actively construct their musical identities, and are not passive recipients of adult musical meanings. They construct multiple, fluid and often contradictory and ambiguous musical identities, dominated on one hand by Greek nationalism in certain contexts and on the other hand by the hegemonic delineations of Western and global musical cultures. Children often marginalise their Cypriot local musical identities in favour of global, Western and Greek musical identities. Although this thesis critically analyses the homogenising and dominating effects of the global, which cause complex human struggles, and subordinated local musical practices, it concludes that the effects of global processes are highly uneven; and argues in favour of the significance of the local, social and personal, in the construction of musical meaning

Year: 2006
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