The Newsletter 60 Summer 2012

The multiple meanings of tradition. Kam singing in southwestern China

Catherine Ingram

Since the 1950s, villagers from Kam (in Chinese, Dong) minority communities in Guizhou Province and adjoining areas of Guangxi and Hunan in south-western China have not only sung Kam songs in many different centuries-old village rituals and festivals, but also in many staged performances. As evident through my recent ethnographic research into Kam singing, these staged Kam performances have gradually formed a new ‘tradition’ of Kam singing that is simultaneously promoting, challenging and transforming Kam village singing in a variety of unanticipated and complex ways.

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