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In Focus: NRD 2015

Music & Voice Workshop

Rongelapese women sing during Nuclear Remembrance Day 2014Marshallese culture and history has, and continues to be, shared through oral transmission. The activities of “talking stories” (bwebwenato) and singing together are central to upholding Marshallese communal life and intergenerational communication.     US nuclear testing (1946-1958) forced some Marshallese from their lands and separated communities. Away from their land, stories and songs became even more important in maintaining culture. Sometimes, we can hear the physical effects of radiation exposure in the voices of Marshallese storytellers and singers: the sound of the voice or the inability to produce sound.     Drawing from her own research, the foundational work of scholars such as Holly Barker and Barbara Rose Johnston, and the testimonials of Marshallese who know firsthand the importance of “having a voice” in the political world and also for keeping their culture alive and histories heard, Dr. Jessica Schwartz, MEI Co-Founder and Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, will lead a workshop that shares Marshallese stories and songs about the consequences of nuclear testing and that encourages students to think critically about the concept and term “voice."   For more information, please visit our NRD 2015 page.      

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