Learning in Secret

Entanglements between Gender and Age in Women's Experiences with the Zimbabwean "Mbira Dzavadzimu"

Introducing four women's stories of learning to play the mbira dzavadzimu, this article illustrates how young female players respond to a position that is doubly marked, by age as well as gender. Analysing entanglements between gender and age-in women's discursive claims to dreaming of ancestors, their involvement in practices of learning in secret and their experiences of intense public scrutiny-I suggest that female mbira players are actively involved in refashioning the social significance of a series of powerful cultural tropes. Their stories of learning to play both illustrate how women assert musical agency in the context of an evolving social order and remind us of the importance of integrating seniority, a fundamental principle of social organisation, in analyses of music and gender in sub-Saharan Africa.

Journal British Journal of Ethnomusicology
Year 2014
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 110-134

Kyker, Jennifer (2014) Learning in Secret: Entanglements between Gender and Age in Women's Experiences with the Zimbabwean "Mbira Dzavadzimu". In: British Journal of Ethnomusicology, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 110-134. Available at https://openmusiclibrary.org/article/514814/.

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