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3- Japanese Performers of Irish Music: Adaption, Power and the Creation of Culture – Toshio Oki, Memorial University of Newfoundland

1:30 PM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)
Irish traditional music, the instrumental dance music of Ireland, has been performed in Japan from at least the 1970s (Ohshima 2014, Yoneyama 2014). This paper will explore the ways in which power, nationalism and gender interact performatively between members of the Japanese Irish music scenes of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Though the performance of Irish traditional music is a relatively recent phenomenon, the presence of Irish music in Japan can be traced back to schools in the mid-19th Century, when Japan embarked on its unprecedented leap into modernity (Malm 2015, Howe 2014, Eppstein 1985). It is through the modern-day Japanese classroom and campus that many young performers are exposed to Irish traditional music for the first time. Japanese performers now utilize the Irish musical idiom as a means of moderating their interactions with Japanese societal norms. Japanese Irish players, both as a group and as individuals, enact and resist—at different times, in different situations and in different ways—the pervasive power dynamics that permeate Japanese social relations, through their situated practice of imported, relatively egalitarian Irish norms of power relations, placed specifically within the Japanese musical social milieu. This paper will focus on why and how college-age Japanese musicians use Irish traditional music to reimagine the place of gender roles and aspire (and sometimes enact) socio-political liberation from predominant power relations and hierarchies of status through their engagement with cosmopolitanism.
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