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Title:Music, musicians, and social advocacy: Environmental conservation, knowledge-sharing, and cultivating a culture of wisdom in northern Tanzania
Author(s):Hatfield, Tara
Advisor(s):Silvers, Michael B.
Contributor(s):Buchanan, Donna A.
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):popular music
hip hop
Abstract:Popular music and musicians in Tanzania play an important role in identifying and confronting a variety of locally relevant concerns. Prior research in the region has focused especially on the relationship between hip hop and social problems such as poverty and drug-use among urban youth. While individual artists and groups of people brought together by their shared interest in music have both been included in this research, their engagement with local and global environmental issues and community-based education have not been exhaustively addressed. This thesis seeks to fill this gap by exploring the relationships of music-makers and their communities with environmental concerns and various forms of knowledge production and maintenance. Drawing on formal interviews, informal conversations, and my participation in the collaborative production of an album and music video, this thesis presents several case studies which demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to confronting environmental and educational issues. Environmental advocacy and activism are carried out by musicians in Tanzania both through their musical production itself and extra-musical efforts. Chaca na Nduguzee’s “Maji Uhai” (Water is life), explicitly addresses the crisis of clean water in Tanzania. Another artist, P-Culture, uses nostalgic language and visual depictions to simultaneously construct local indigenous identities and pan-African ones, united by their relationship to the land in her video for “Dream Land.” There are also a number of communities centered around musical production involved in local waste-cleanup efforts and creating sustainable forms of ecotourism. Many of these artists and their communities are also involved in the maintenance and production of diverse knowledges and the eventual naturalization of collective wisdom based in humane decision-making. The ways in which the communities and individuals I present in my case studies do the work of producing, sharing, and encouraging particular ways of thinking and forms of knowledge are varied and plural, in both their specific educational goals and their modes of transmission and creation. A hip hop collective known as Okoa Mtaa (Saving the neighborhood), and the multi-faceted organization entitled the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) both organize public educational programming on a variety of topics. Between these two organizations alone, educational approaches include film production and screening, free classes for children and adults in a variety of subjects, as well as workshops aimed at professional development for hip hop artists and producers. My collaboration with musician Chaca na Nduguzee, other Arusha-based artists, and musicians within a Hadzabe community also demonstrate innovative modes of maintaining and cultivating knowledge and wisdom both within Tanzania and beyond its national and cultural borders. The unrelenting desire of the communities and individuals behind these efforts to empower others through intellectual growth, in conjunction with the multiplicity of strategies they already use, may not be the singular solution to the societal problems they seek to resolve, but they are already making a difference in the lives and musical production of many people in northern Tanzania. I conclude by addressing the significance of the advocacy and actions carried out by the musically-minded people I represent through my analysis. Their musical expression and extra-musical work directed towards the development of alternative ways of thinking about and being in the world for both those within their music-centered communities and those with whom they directly and indirectly interact offers not only methods for others to adapt and repurpose in confronting their comparable environmental and educational concerns, but is already making an impact. In this thesis, I argue that music-centered communities and the individual artists which populate them confront local environmental challenges; foster the growth of a culture of wisdom; and nurture the maintenance, continued production, and transmission of various bodies of knowledge, including IK and TEK, through both music-making itself and extra-musical actions.
Issue Date:2019-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Tara Hatfield
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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