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Title: Black rhythm and British reserve : interpretations of black musicality in racist ideology since 1750.
Author: Mair, Marian.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3616 9711
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1987
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The idea that Black people are constitutionally musical tends not to be considered a racist one. However, British constructions of Black musicality frequently rest upon a network of derogatory views of Black people as primitive, hedonistic, and as possessed of physical rather than intellectual skills. This historical analysis reveals haw ideas about Black musicality have attained cammon-sense status in British thinking. Music has been highly developed in Black cultures this thesis does not aim to deconstruct a myth of Black musicality. Rather it attempts a critical examination of the ways in which Black musicality has been conceptualized. Using a wide variety of sources, but mainly those from popular culture, it will be demonstrated that British perceptions of Black musicality reflect domestic circumstances and contemporary ideologies as much as colonial and Imperial issues. British commentary on Black musicality starts to appear regularly after about 1750. This date inaugurates a period of dramatic social change and the emergence of a division between leisure and work which led to music being defined as a nan-productive activity, increasingly marginalised as a social skill. Musicality was denounced as antithetical to the puritanical notion of industriousness associated with the ideology of British economic supremacYi foreigners were increasingly relied upon to provide musical entertainments. Representations of Black people degenerated into a series of more or less derogatory caricatures exemplified in the highly popular blackface minstrels of the second half of the nineteenth century. By the twentieth century, however, the anti-puritanical associations of Black musicality had led to the romanticization of the Black musician who became identified as a symbol of dissent. Finally, it will be demonstrated that the stereotyping to which Black music has been subject does not belie it significance as a symbol of Black cultural autonomy, a form of resistance, and a medium with positive political potential.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History