As long as we continue to joik, we'll remember who we are: negotiating identity and the performance of culture: the Saami joik
Jones-Bamman, Richard Wiren, 1951-
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The focus of this dissertation is the indigenous musical genre of the Saami (formerly Lapps) of northern Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Finland). Known throughout the region generically as joik, this is vocal music traditionally performed by a single individual without accompaniment. Even though joiking has always played an integral role in Saami culture, until very recently the genre was rarely heard in public contexts. While some of this can be explained in emic conceptions about performance, this development has primarily been the result of the negative reactions joiking has engendered among the neighboring Scandinavian populations who constitute a clear ethnic and cultural majority.In the late 1960s, however, joik did re-emerge significantly from its secretive state, but most often in performances which no longer fit the 'traditional' parameters. In the course of once again publicly celebrating this vital cultural expression, many Saami musicians combined joik with a remarkable variety of instrumental ensembles, producing what became known as 'modern' joik. The popularity of these efforts not only demonstrated the viability of this particular approach to the genre, but eventually contributed to the revitalization of joik in many of its traditional contexts.My primary concern in this work is to examine these developments from several different perspectives. First, I am concerned that such changes in performance not simply be regarded as the result of outside musical influences, but be seen as indicative of an ongoing pattern within Saami culture to negotiate a more positive ethnic identity, one which not only articulates intracultural diversity, but which also encourages the creation of a more unified Saami image then has previously existed. Second, I have posited that joik is ideally positioned to function as a rallying symbol for this movement, due to its primordial role in Saami culture as a means of incorporating individuals and the environment into a perceived community, which is actuated in performance. Finally, I have demonstrated that even in this symbolic role, joik is not restricted to a single inclusive/exclusive function, but is a crucial element in the negotiation of different levels of identity within Saami culture.
- Music