Ethnography on the politics of land and belonging in post apartheid Zulu performances
What does it mean to belong? In The Land is Sung, musicologist Thomas M. Pooley shows how performances of song, dance, and praise poetry connect Zulu communities to their ancestral homes and genealogies. For those without land tenure in the province of KwaZulu-Nata, performances articulate a sense of place. Migrants express their allegiances through performance and spiritual relationships to land are embodied in rituals that invoke ancestral connection while advancing well-being through intergenerational communication. Engaging with justice and environmental ethics, education and indigenous knowledge systems, musical and linguistic analysis, and the ethics of recording practice, Pooley's analysis draws on genres of music and dance recorded in the midlands and borderlands of South Africa, and in Johannesburg's inner city. His detailed sound writing captures the visceral experiences of performances in everyday life. The book is richly illustrated and there is a companion website featuring both video and audio examples.
Acknowledgments • List of Maps • List of Figures • Chapter 1 Introduction: Sounding a Way • Chapter 2 The Politics of Belonging: Land, Culture, and Representation in KwaZulu-Natal • Chapter 3 Umsindo! A Wedding at Ncunjane • Chapter 4 Umemulo: Songs of Sacrifice • Chapter 5 Phenomenology of iNgoma: isiShameni Dance and the Politics of Proximity • Chapter 6 uMaskandi iziBongo: The Politics and Poetics of Popular Praises • Chapter 7 Poverty, Inequality, and the Politics of Performance in Schools • Chapter 8 Sounds of Tongaland: Environmental Justice at Ndumo Game Reserve • Chapter 9 Unsung Melodies: Reciprocity in Sound • Epilogue • Bibliography • Discography • Index
"The Land Is Sung is a significant addition to a long tradition of critical writing about South African performance after apartheid. Focusing on one of the most marginalized regions of South Africa, Pooley adroitly complicates the concept of 'Zulu' music as a homogeneous body of sounds. Music, he argues, is inextricably intertwined with the heady debates about governance, justice, ethics, community, land ownership, and genealogy that have defined the north-eastern edges of the province of Kwazulu-Natal for centuries and that continue to both divide and unite its inhabitants."~Veit Erlmann, author of Lion's Share: Remaking South African Copyright
"In this rich and enlightening study, Thomas M. Pooley deftly probes the link between Zulu musical performance and a politics of place in South Africa. Sound, he suggests, can be seen as a means of occupation; to make sound is to declare a kind of territory—or 'sonic space'—one uniquely porous and unbounded. Music making thus seems specially accommodating to the political imagination. Indeed, in postcolonial contexts, amidst the continuing struggle to recover land and status lost, such performance takes on special historical salience, in South Africa and the world at large."~Jean Comaroff, Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, Harvard University