Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experienceby Adelaida Reyes

  • Published on
    20-Jan-2017

  • View
    214

  • Download
    1

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

<ul><li><p>Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience byAdelaida ReyesReview by: Tomie HahnNotes, Second Series, Vol. 56, No. 4 (Jun., 2000), pp. 957-958Published by: Music Library AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/899849 .Accessed: 15/06/2014 08:36</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Music Library Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Notes.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.73.86 on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 08:36:41 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=muliashttp://www.jstor.org/stable/899849?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Book Reviews Book Reviews </p><p>university-educated musician and media personality, became synonymous with the highly patriotic subgenre of samba known as samba-exalta(do and penned the interna- tionally famous "Aquarela do Brasil." Shaw concludes that his "avoidance of the theme of malandragem is not surprising given the patriotism and pro-establishment stand that permeates most of his work" (p. 153). As a consequence, the Brazil he depicted was an artificial one created in tandem with the state's image makers and was far removed from the daily life of the lower class. </p><p>The Social History of the Brazilian Samba is an informative introduction to the develop- ment of commercial samba in the period 1930-45. Though supporting music analysis would have been welcome, the book's value lies in Shaw's extensive commentary on the lyrics balanced with her sensitive attention to the political, social, and cultural contexts in which they were written. </p><p>LARRY CROOK </p><p>University of Florida </p><p>Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience. By Adelaida Reyes. Phila- </p><p>delphia: Temple University Press, 1999. [xix, 218 p. ISBN 1-56639-685-9 </p><p>(cloth); 1-56639-686-7 (pbk.). $59.50 (cloth); $19.95 (pbk.).] </p><p>Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free, an ex- amination of Vietnamese refugee music, is a landmark ethnographic study in which Adelaida Reyes addresses complex issues of identity and the reconstruction of commu- nity. From her extensive fieldwork span- ning a fifteen-year period, she documents the three-stage journey of Vietnamese refugees, from the first asylum camps, to processing camps, to resettlement in the United States. Using case studies from each of these locations, she provides readers with a vivid account of the refugees' flight and its musical expression. Her work con- tributes substantially to the understanding of transplanted culture, expressive arts, and the process of constructing identity as Vietnamese Americans or Asian-Americans. </p><p>Throughout the book, Reyes reveals the challenges she encountered in the field, both political and personal. The complex- ity of her project is astounding: her infor- mants varied in age as well as in ethnic and </p><p>university-educated musician and media personality, became synonymous with the highly patriotic subgenre of samba known as samba-exalta(do and penned the interna- tionally famous "Aquarela do Brasil." Shaw concludes that his "avoidance of the theme of malandragem is not surprising given the patriotism and pro-establishment stand that permeates most of his work" (p. 153). As a consequence, the Brazil he depicted was an artificial one created in tandem with the state's image makers and was far removed from the daily life of the lower class. </p><p>The Social History of the Brazilian Samba is an informative introduction to the develop- ment of commercial samba in the period 1930-45. Though supporting music analysis would have been welcome, the book's value lies in Shaw's extensive commentary on the lyrics balanced with her sensitive attention to the political, social, and cultural contexts in which they were written. </p><p>LARRY CROOK </p><p>University of Florida </p><p>Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience. By Adelaida Reyes. Phila- </p><p>delphia: Temple University Press, 1999. [xix, 218 p. ISBN 1-56639-685-9 </p><p>(cloth); 1-56639-686-7 (pbk.). $59.50 (cloth); $19.95 (pbk.).] </p><p>Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free, an ex- amination of Vietnamese refugee music, is a landmark ethnographic study in which Adelaida Reyes addresses complex issues of identity and the reconstruction of commu- nity. From her extensive fieldwork span- ning a fifteen-year period, she documents the three-stage journey of Vietnamese refugees, from the first asylum camps, to processing camps, to resettlement in the United States. Using case studies from each of these locations, she provides readers with a vivid account of the refugees' flight and its musical expression. Her work con- tributes substantially to the understanding of transplanted culture, expressive arts, and the process of constructing identity as Vietnamese Americans or Asian-Americans. </p><p>Throughout the book, Reyes reveals the challenges she encountered in the field, both political and personal. The complex- ity of her project is astounding: her infor- mants varied in age as well as in ethnic and </p><p>economic background; the flight from Vietnam was voluntary for some, forced for others; and the refugees settled in contrast- ing areas of the United States. Reyes devel- oped a sensitive method to deal with these and other factors in her research, such as legal issues and the psychological state of the refugees. </p><p>In the introduction, Reyes places her work within the larger frame of current research, including studies on migration, music, and social change: "A few themes ... undergird the rising flood of ethnomu- sicological research, among them (1) musi- cal identity and the role of tradition in the context of dislocation; and (2) the related issue of studying a musical culture in a con- tingent world where time and place are no longer the unequivocal anchors that they used to be" (p. 15). </p><p>The book is in two parts titled "The Journey" and "The Transplanted Life." In part 1, which focuses on the refugees' de- parture from Vietnam, Reyes recounts two case studies: "First Asylum: The Camp in Palawan, Philippines" and "Springboard to Resettlement: The Refugee Processing Center" (in Bataan, Philippines). She vividly brings the reader into the refugee camps through her compelling, thick description, interviews, and photographs. Throughout the text, her humble tone re- veals her concern and respect for the refugees. The reader learns of the "sad songs" and "love songs" that not only re- flected their feelings of loss and sadness in the camps but also carried political mean- ing: "The ideological grounds for prefer- ring sad songs and love songs lay deeply embedded also in their exodus. Until the late 1980s, the Socialist government of Vietnam had prohibited love songs and songs nostalgic for pre-1975 Vietnam. To sing sad songs and love songs was therefore an act of defiance or self-differentiation from those who accepted the communist prohibition, and by extension, at least in the asylees' view, the communist regime" (p. 35). </p><p>In part 2, Reyes presents two contrasting case studies of the refugees' transplanted life in the United States, one from New Jersey and the other from California. Here the complexity of her study deepens. The conditions under which the refugees fled (voluntary versus forced migration), the time of their exodus relative to the war and </p><p>economic background; the flight from Vietnam was voluntary for some, forced for others; and the refugees settled in contrast- ing areas of the United States. Reyes devel- oped a sensitive method to deal with these and other factors in her research, such as legal issues and the psychological state of the refugees. </p><p>In the introduction, Reyes places her work within the larger frame of current research, including studies on migration, music, and social change: "A few themes ... undergird the rising flood of ethnomu- sicological research, among them (1) musi- cal identity and the role of tradition in the context of dislocation; and (2) the related issue of studying a musical culture in a con- tingent world where time and place are no longer the unequivocal anchors that they used to be" (p. 15). </p><p>The book is in two parts titled "The Journey" and "The Transplanted Life." In part 1, which focuses on the refugees' de- parture from Vietnam, Reyes recounts two case studies: "First Asylum: The Camp in Palawan, Philippines" and "Springboard to Resettlement: The Refugee Processing Center" (in Bataan, Philippines). She vividly brings the reader into the refugee camps through her compelling, thick description, interviews, and photographs. Throughout the text, her humble tone re- veals her concern and respect for the refugees. The reader learns of the "sad songs" and "love songs" that not only re- flected their feelings of loss and sadness in the camps but also carried political mean- ing: "The ideological grounds for prefer- ring sad songs and love songs lay deeply embedded also in their exodus. Until the late 1980s, the Socialist government of Vietnam had prohibited love songs and songs nostalgic for pre-1975 Vietnam. To sing sad songs and love songs was therefore an act of defiance or self-differentiation from those who accepted the communist prohibition, and by extension, at least in the asylees' view, the communist regime" (p. 35). </p><p>In part 2, Reyes presents two contrasting case studies of the refugees' transplanted life in the United States, one from New Jersey and the other from California. Here the complexity of her study deepens. The conditions under which the refugees fled (voluntary versus forced migration), the time of their exodus relative to the war and </p><p>957 957 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.73.86 on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 08:36:41 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>NOTES, June 2000 NOTES, June 2000 </p><p>the organization of aid, the manner in which they arrived in the camps, and their place of settlement in the United States- all of these factors created significant dif- ferences in the refugee experience and thus its musical expression. Reyes focuses on a Tet celebration in Woodridge, New Jersey, as a community event and creative marker of identity, noting that here "themes emerged that were to recur not only in other Tet celebrations but on other musical occasions as well: the refugees- exiles' nostalgia for home, and the need to identify themselves with and adapt to a host society" (p. 85). She also addresses the refugees' redefinition of "traditional" Viet- namese music, a process crucial to their un- derstanding of their transplanted identity. "The linkage of Vietnamese traditional music and Vietnamese music, and the con- fusion of one for the other, thus became unmistakable. On one level, the apparent contradictions found resolution in the con- cept traditional as a historical reality, distant and abstract, and as a present-day reality as- signed a contemporary function" (p. 95). </p><p>Reyes's discussion of refugees in Orange County, California, focuses on music in Little Saigon, clubs, churches, cultural festi- vals, and the recording industry. Her ap- proach is fascinating: she views the dias- pora from the outside, from within, and from the point where these two intersect. This shifting perspective reflects her keen insight into the nature of her research, en- abling her to view multiple relationships embodied in the music and the commu- nity. One of the strengths of this book is her elucidation of her research methods and the way she allows the theoretical is- sues to unfold. (See the tables on pp. 170-71.) Her book conveys not only the un- bearable journey of the refugee popula- tion, but also her own journey to uncover their story and its artistic expression. She situates the reader by her side throughout this journey as she uncovers and analyzes the data. This is invaluable in an ethno- graphic study. </p><p>This book will find a wide audience. It is a significant contribution to migration research, ethnomusicology, and Asian- American studies. I recommend it as a text for courses in ethnomusicology and Asian or Asian-American music, as it addresses issues such as defining tradition, trans- </p><p>the organization of aid, the manner in which they arrived in the camps, and their place of settlement in the United States- all of these factors created significant dif- ferences in the refugee experience and thus its musical expression. Reyes focuses on a Tet celebration in Woodridge, New Jersey, as a community event and creative marker of identity, noting that here "themes emerged that were to recur not only in other Tet celebrations but on other musical occasions as well: the refugees- exiles' nostalgia for home, and the need to identify themselves with and adapt to a host society" (p. 85). She also addresses the refugees' redefinition of "traditional" Viet- namese music, a process crucial to their un- derstanding of their transplanted identity. "The linkage of Vietnamese traditional music and Vietnamese music, and the con- fusion of one for the other, thus became unmistakable. On one level, the apparent contradictions found resolution in the con- cept traditional as a historical reality, distant and abstract, and as a present-day reality as- signed a contemporary function" (p. 95). </p><p>Reyes's discussion of refugees in Orange County, California, focuses on music in Little Saigon, clubs, churches, cultural festi- vals, and the recording industry. Her ap- proach is fascinating: she views the dias- pora from the outside, from within, and from the point where these two intersect. This shifting perspective reflects her keen insight into the nature of her research, en- abling her to view multiple relationships embodied in the music and the commu- nity. One of the strengths of this book is her elucidation of her research methods and the way she allows the theoretical is- sues to unfold. (See the tables on pp. 170-71.) Her book conveys not only the un- bearable journey of the refugee popula- tion, but also her own journey to uncover their story and its artistic expression. She situates the reader by her side throughout this journey as she uncovers and analyzes the data. This is invaluable in an ethno- graphic study. </p><p>This book will find a wide audience. It is a significant contribution to migration research, ethnomusicology, and Asian- American studies. I recommend it as a t...</p></li></ul>