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Title:Polish-American Music in Detroit: Negotiating Ethnic Boundaries
Author(s):Savaglio, Paula Clare
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nettl, Bruno
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:A successive pattern of Polish immigration to the United States has continued since the late-nineteenth century. In the Detroit metropolitan area this pattern has produced an ethnic community which includes third and fourth generation Polish-Americans as well as post-World War II emigres. The disparate backgrounds and political orientations of the pre- and post-World War II immigrants and their descendants have resulted in a community which, despite its members' common national heritage, is not uniform. Its varied constituency is expressed through a multitude of musical styles.
This study first documents the range of the community's musical activities: church and civic choirs, folk dance ensembles, and dance bands. Secondly, it interprets the ways in which the community's musical ensembles and genres function for marking inter- and intra-group boundaries. Underlying this interpretation is the assertion that one of the most basic challenges facing the community during the past century has been defining its place within the larger United States society. The study focuses attention especially on the polka which holds an ambiguous position in the community, being of non-Polish origin, popular at ethnic celebrations, and in certain contexts, publicly denigrated. It is demonstrated that this ambiguity has yielded the polka to multiple ascriptions of meaning and function for the self-definition of the community and its subgroups.
The Polish-American musical ensembles of Detroit are engaged in an ongoing struggle to maintain a balance between the Polish and non-specifically Polish elements of their repertoires, styles, and forms of self-presentation. This balance plays a strategic role in the Polish-American community's delineation of its differentiable yet viable identities in a musically pluralistic society.
Issue Date:1992
Description:303 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9305678
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1992

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