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Historical Overview of West African Drumming and Dance in North America

Historical Overview of West African Drumming and Dance in North America

From the Period of Slavery (1619–1863) until the Early 1960s

Chapter:
(p.14) 1 Historical Overview of West African Drumming and Dance in North America
Source:
West African Drumming and Dance in North American Universities
Author(s):
George WorlasiKwasi Dor
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617039140.003.0001

Chapter 1 situates the study by historically contextualizing African drums and drumming traditions in North America retrospectively, first, from the period of slavery (1619-1863), and then from Emancipation (1863) to early 1960s. Using the themes (1) socio-cultural dislocation from homeland institutional structures and systems, (2) conversion of most enslaved Africans to Christianity, and (3) slaveholders’ prescriptive and circumscriptive controlling power, Dor explores evidence from compelling secondary sources of suppression of drumming traditions in parts of the African diaspora. Black secular social life, and the Black Church are sites from which the author examines factors that militated against an immediate reinvention of West African drumming traditions in North America even after Emancipation. Chapter 1 concludes with the changing historical, socio-political, cultural, and intellectual landscapes, as well as the agency of individual personalities—Asadata Dafora Horton, Katherine Mary Dunham, Pearl Primus, Babatunde Olatunji, and Kofi Ghanaba— responsible for the genre's resurrection.

Keywords:   Suppression of drumming, Sociocultural dislocation, Conversion of enslave Africans, Babatunde Olatunji, Katheirne Mary Dunham

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