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Chanted Narratives of Indigenous People

Chanted Narratives of Indigenous People

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Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture
Chanted Narratives of Indigenous People: Context and ContentAuthor(s): Nita MathurSource:
Asian Ethnology,
Vol. 67, No. 1 (2008), pp. 103-121Published by: Nanzan Institute for Religion and CultureStable URL:
Accessed: 03/11/2009 03:44
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=afs.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
 Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture
is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend accessto
 Asian Ethnology.
http://www.jstor.org
 
NlTA MathurIndira GandhiNationalOpen University,India
ChantedNarrativesofIndigenous People
Contextand Content
This articletreatsnarrativesinthetextofsongsas aculturalscriptbywhichindigenouspeopleorganizeexperienceandmakesenseof theirlives. Theessayissubtitied"context and content"toemphasizeaperspectivethattreats
songandmusicas awayofthinkingand modeofbeingintheworld. Itexploresthecontextof the Santhal(thelargest indigenouscommunityintheBengal,Jharkhand,and Orissa belt in theIndiansubcontinent)narrativesbydelvinginto thesymbolsandcognitivepatternenfoldedinthem.Thecon
cernisalso withexploringhowcontextsconstrainnarrativesinindigenous
communities anddevelopingaframeworkwithinwhichthecontextandcontentofchantednarratives of theindigenouspeoplemaybepursued togethermeaningfully.
keywords:agricultural cycle?ethnicidentity?indigenouspeople?narrative?songAsianEthnologyVolume67,Number12008,103-121? NanzanInstituteforReligionand Culture
 
Researchershavelongacceptedthat the narrativecomponentindramas,theatre,songsand other formsofexpressionenshrine the sacredknowledge,wisdom,and beliefsofpeopleandoperatewithinthelargerframework of socialcontext(seeBamberg andMoissinac2003,Bruner1990,Donald1991,FivushandHaden2003,vii-xiv).Narrativediscourse, therefore,needstobetreatedaspartoftheculturalsystem.As Daiute and Lightfoot(2004, x-xi)explain,Narrative discoursesareculturalmeaningsandinterpretationsthatguideper
ception,thought,interactionandaction.Narrative discourseorganizessocial
relations,interpretationsof thepast,andplansfor the future. Thewaypeopletellstories influenceshowthey perceive,remember,andpreparefor futureevents.Thismeaningof discourseappliestoall forms ofhumancommunicationandsymbolization?verbalandnonverbalalike.Thechallengebeforesocial scientistsistounderstand how narratives bothinfluence andgetinfluencedaslocalculturesarere-positionedwithin thelargerand broaderconcernsofglobalculture. Thisessayissubtitled"contextandcontent"inordertodepartfromanatomisticunderstandingof chantednarrativesandemphasizeaperspectivethattreatsthesongandmusicofSanthals1as a"culturalscript,"referringtotheway(s)throughwhichpeopleorganizeexperienceandmakesenseoftheir livesintheculturalsetting.Newquestionscometotheforefrontand oldonesloserigorasone movesfromanatomistic method of interpretationtoa moreholisticone.Theconcernisnotwithhowmetersarebuiltupinarule-governedpiece,but ratherwith thewaysinwhichcontextsconstrainrealtextand narrativesinthe Santhalcommunity.Theculturalmatrixinwhichthe musicalinstrumentsareused inchantingnarrativesacquiredistinctivenessnotonlybyvirtue of theirphysicalformorstructurebutalsobecauseof themyths,beliefsand rituals associatedwith them.This articlebeginswithabroadoverviewof theSanthalcommunity,which isfollowedbythe culturalconceptofsound andacomprehensiveaccountof thewide-ranginglifesituations, beliefs,andmythsassociatedwithit. Theseprovidethecontextof bothmakingandrenderingthechantednarratives.Tensongsthatmark thecriticaleventsinthelivesof Santhalsselectedfrom thewritingsofPrasad(2001)andMahapatra(1992)2have beenanalyzedbasedontheunderstandingthatnarrativesinsongs,dramas,and other104IAsianEthnologyVolume67,Number12008

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