Sounding the aquapelago
The cultural-environmental context of ni-Vanuatu women’s liquid percussion performance
Keywords:Vanuatu, Mwerlap, water music, liquid percussion, aquapelago
This article reviews the cultural-environmental context of the Leweton community’s liquid percussion practice and the production of the Vanuatu Women’s Water Music (henceforth VWWM) DVD with regard to the conceptual framework of the aquapelago. The latter has contended that human societies closely interacting with marine environments can be characterized as inhabiting an aquapelago by virtue of their activities creating an aquapelagic assemblage of terrestrial and marine elements. Following a summary discussion of aspects of the aquapelago, the article first considers the nature of the Leweton community’s liquid percussion practice in its traditional context and then addresses the contemporary developments that led to the production of the DVD, with particular regard to aspects of community livelihood and cultural transition. Drawing on these, the article posits the practices as quintessentially aquapelagic.
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