Popular Music

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Dance, gender, and popular music in Malawi: the case of rap and ragga

a1 Folklore and English Studies, 1287 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA E-mail: lmgilman@uoregon.edu, jfenn@uoregon.edu

Article author query
gilman l   [Google Scholar] 
fenn j   [Google Scholar] 


Rap and ragga musics have found a place on the musical landscape of Malawi over the last decade, exemplified in a nation-wide scene characterised by competitions. Recordings and associated materials of rap and ragga that inform Malawian youth interpretations tend to emphasise male participation and masculine symbols. Competitions are male-dominated in their organisational structure and participatory roles. Though the articulated focus of these events is the musical component, movement practices are at the core of the scene, comprising part of contestants' performances and the more informal activities of spectators. Female involvement as dancers is much greater than as music-makers, making attention to dance crucial for understanding gender dynamics. Our exploration of intersections between dance, music, gender and class provides insight into the reasons for and implications of male dominance in this popular music/dance scene.

(Published Online September 11 2006)