Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Your Cart   |   Sign In   |   Join AFS
AFS Review: Notes

2014 Chicago Folklore Prize Awarded to David McDonald, My Voice is My Weapon

Monday, December 8, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
Share |

Folklorists have regularly positioned themselves within the socio-political conversations of their time, testament to the common and fundamentally human impulse to respond with creativity to controversy and tension, ambiguity and uncertainty. At its best, such research reveals the beauty and hope that can prevail despite the most trying circumstances, and reveal the personal dimensions of local, national, and international conflict.

This year’s recipient of the Chicago Folklore Prize for the best scholarly monograph in folklore is a bold and timely contribution to this branch of folklore studies, challenging us to continue to address even the most fraught conflicts around the world.

David McDonald’s book My Voice is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance, published by Duke University Press, provides a powerful examination of how Palestinian identity has been constructed and negotiated through the music of protest. Unwilling to accept pat generic conventions, McDonald takes a performance-based approach to define and interpret Palestinian music from the late Ottoman period to today, considering how a vast array of musical traditions and genres have been used and adapted for protest. The result is a sweeping book that never loses sight of the individuals who have created, shaped, and transformed Palestinian music.

McDonald enters this highly charged arena with the methodological and theoretical tools of a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, ethnographer, and historian, immersing himself within Palestinian communities in Israel, in exile and under occupation. His careful, at times breathtaking fieldwork places individual artists such as the eloquent, dynamic Kamal Khalil within personal, political, and historical contexts. In doing so, McDonald tackles complex questions about hegemony, power, nationalism and tradition, discussions that promise to energize and engage folklorists and ethnomusicologists alike.

Like many fieldworkers, McDonald meets the Palestinian musicians where they stand and works to provide an emic understanding not only of the music of protest, but also of the tensions that underlie that protest. Some readers may wish for a similar treatment of Israeli views and musical traditions and it is our hope that McDonald’s excellent study will encourage similarly nuanced and sympathetic portraits throughout the Middle East.

For its excellence in balancing scholarly rigor with ambitious scope, historical context with individual performance, and careful ethnographic method with theoretical sophistication, the American Folklore Society is proud to award this year’s Chicago Folklore Prize to David McDonald for My Voice is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance.

Career Center
| Open Forums
| Online Store
| Renew
| Member Search
| Donate

American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
Classroom-Office Building, Indiana University, 800 East Third Street, Bloomington IN 47405 USA

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal