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About the Project

¿How are the music and dance traditions of the Northern Coast and the Central Rainforest practiced, transmitted, preserved, refreshed, and disseminated via the Internet and social media? The present project examines the shared soundscapes that emerge when local music and dance traditions are negotiated by actors such as the Peruvian state, archives, anthropologists, and local communities in the context of heritage policies or identity politics. Based on a collaborative research design it seeks to explore and analyze the current impact which a web of actors has in revitalizing music like la marinera executed with the harp and tsonkari instrumental music played with the Amazonian flute, as well as dances such as the Danza de los Diablicos and the Amashetantsi performances. The Peruvian state values cultural diversity as a national resource and promotes cultural policies in favor of these distinct genres as part of its heritage. Institutional sound archives build on research and recordings primarily collected by anthropologists. For their part, anthropologists document music and dance not only to preserve it, but also to acquire a better understanding of its close intertwining with everyday life, festive events, the transmission of knowledge between generations, and the manifestation of collective identity for cultural and political ends. At the same time, local communities of the Northern Coast and Asháninka and Nomatsiguenga peoples of the Central Rainforest revitalize music and dance traditions, often resorting to their own everyday archival practices for the purpose of identity politics and claims on local cultural heritage or land and infrastructure vis-à-vis the Peruvian state, as currently is the case during the Covid-19 crisis.

According to the notion of Shared Soundscapes, music and dance are always accompanied by other sonorities and enunciations of the voice negotiated by diverse actors based on their respective knowledges. The interest of local communities of the Northern Coast and the Central Rainforest in activating their music and dance expressions is at the heart of the project, which focuses on them since they have received little attention to date. With regard to their historical dimension, two important archives hold recordings from the Northern Coast and Central Rainforest communities:

  • The Institute of Ethnomusicology (IDE) at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). In the late 1980s, the IDE recorded music of the department of Lambayeque on the Northern Coast as part of a music preservation project. These materials include 393 photographs, 37 hours of VHS recordings, and 29 hours of video recordings that document genres such as the marinera and the Danza de los Diablicos in Eten and Túcume. Some of these recordings expand on the research by German collector Hans Heinrich Brüning between 1910 and 1925.
  • The individual collection of German anthropologist Manfred Schäfer (1949-2003). In the 1980s, Schäfer audiotaped music played and sung by Asháninka and Nomatsiguenga of the Central Rainforest and by Ashéninka of the Gran Pajonal. His personal collection includes 12 hours of sound recordings of songs as well as tsonkari and tampo instrumental music, more than 2,000 color slides, 7 hours of super 8 films and additional 16-mm footage.

Since both archives are in major cities of Peru and Germany, their materials have not been sufficiently accessible for the descendants of the people recorded and the communities that are heirs to these cultural traditions. Shared Soundscapes seeks to overcome this divide by developing a model for studying music and dance in a collaborative way through activating archives and creating new archives in the communities themselves. This research format involves musicians, cultural promoters, teachers and other experts from the local communities, as well as anthropologists and the IDE as an institutional research archive. Special attention will be given to changes in the technology and mediation of music – above all digitalization and social media – through which diverse actors alter how they appropriate, transmit, and value music and dance repertoires.