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Paths toward a Hearing

Paths toward a Hearing

(p.17) One Paths toward a Hearing
Song Walking
Angela Impey
University of Chicago Press

Chapter One situates the study, describing its transformation from simple organological exploration of the mouth harp (isitweletwele) to an in-depth historical ethnography of western Maputaland, generated by women’s memories associated with its performance. Inspired by the impetus in southeast African studies to seek postcolonial redress through the reconstruction of particularist histories, the study draws on women’s songs, narratives and mobilities to better understand gendered epistemologies of the borderlandscape. Maintaining that memories are contingent upon the contexts of their recovery, the chapter outlines the methodologies applied with the same two groups of women over an eight-year period, which were at once sedentary and based on group recall, and more importantly, on walking while playing. Drawing on years of participant observation, recordings and interviews, the chapter makes evident how women’s performance-based memories yield far more intimate and nuanced insights about people and place than can be deduced from the prevailing grand narrative of dispossession and injustice.

Keywords:   isitweletwele, music, motion, memory, apartheid, land disposession

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