Seminar: Music, Pleasure, and Culture: Soundly Organized People in a Musically Organized Hunter-Gatherer Civilization with Jerome Lewis

Friday, February 17th 12pm ET / 5pm UTC

ProSocial Commons

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Jerome Lewis
Free seminar and Q&A session sponsored by the ProSocial Commons

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Western Congo Basin hunter-gatherer groups highly appreciate music for the pleasure it produces among those making it. The different qualities of pleasure produced are associated with specific forest spirits and are so highly valued that the right to call these spirits is not shared on demand, as are other products of human labor, but traded between individuals within and across national and ethnic boundaries. The talk describes how participation in a distinctive musical style reveals and transmits ideal scenarios that form socio-aesthetic standards guiding, but not dictating culturally appropriate or characteristic action. The temporal duration and spatial distribution of this musical style suggest the existence of a distinctive Central African hunter-gatherer civilization of great antiquity

Jerome Lewis (Reader in Social Anthropology, University College London) works with BaYaka forest hunter-gatherers in Congo-Brazzaville since 1993 on egalitarian politics, taboo and myth, and the role of ritual, music and dance in society. Jerome’s applied research supports conservation efforts by forest people to secure their land and better represent themselves to outsiders using new technologies (Extreme Citizen Science). He is director of the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability, and co-director of Flourishing Diversity.