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Keeping in Touch via Cassette: Tracing Dinka Songs from Cattle Camp to Transnational Audio-Letter

Impey, Angela (2013) 'Keeping in Touch via Cassette: Tracing Dinka Songs from Cattle Camp to Transnational Audio-Letter.' Journal of African Cultural Studies, 25 (2). pp. 197-210.

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Abstract

This paper explores Dinka songs as poetic autobiography, focusing in particular on their composition and circulation as audio-letters between South Sudan and the global Dinka diaspora. Drawing on current debates on mobility and belonging, the paper explores how a tradition of personal song making, which is rooted in a culture of pastoralism and localised mobilities, has been repackaged to accommodate population dispersal across continents and cultures. While ‘big’ mobilities (transacted by civil war) have caused Dinka societies to expand and grow, the paper considers how audio-letters simultaneously bring clan groups together through a combination of old cultural forms and new geographies and concerns. Through the analysis of two Dinka Bor songs, the paper explores how the immediacy and potency inflected in the sonic and poetic convention of the genre nourishes Dinka social and spatial relations and helps to define and redefine their pasts and futures. It concludes with a reflection on the ‘affiliative power’ (Suchman 2005) of the cassette, which, despite increasing access to digital technologies, has remained the song carrier of choice, and has thus become implicated in the complexity of connections, identifications and intimacies of this contemporary global cultural practice.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: South Sudan, Dinka, forced migration, personal songs, cassette tape, emplacement.
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Music
ISSN: 1369-6815 (Print), 1469-9346 (Online)
Depositing User: Angela Impey
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2013 09:01
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/15718

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