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The Social Life of Sound: Urban Indigenous Youth, Hip Hop, and Hardcore Open Access


Other title
Hip Hop
popular music
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zasorin-White, Deirdre A.
Supervisor and department
Dr. Andie Palmer, Department of Anthropology
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Andie Palmer, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Carl Urion, Department of Anthropology, Emeritus
Dr. Joseph Hill, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Marko Zivkovic, Department of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis is an examination of how musical participation and sociality intersect in the lives of nine urban Aboriginal youth and their allies living in western North America. Through the lens of modern Hardcore and Hip Hop, I explore how participation in these two musical scenes may engender a sense of belonging, provide networks of support and develop an ideological grounding that shapes social interactions within a musical setting. Although modern Hardcore and Hip Hop are separate musical scenes, they do share a system of beliefs that play a significant role in the formation of musically based relationships. These beliefs include an emphasis on maintaining one’s local scene, self-education, and taking part in causes relating to social justice. I explore how participation in the musical communities of Hip Hop and modern Hardcore impact the behaviors of the research participants involved in this thesis. Worth noting is that although Hip Hop and modern Hardcore are global movements that can transcend geographic borders, I focus exclusively on experiences within the framework of the local. Drawing upon the work of scholars such as Paul Gilroy (1993), Christopher Small (1998), Linda Tuhiwai Smith (2012[1999]), Josh Kun (2005), and Samy Alim (2006), I argue that while belief systems are not doctrine and cannot be applied universally, they provide a way of approaching the study of music and sociality among urban Aboriginal youth within the confines of my specific research community. Methods of investigation included participant observation, communities of practice, musical and linguistic analysis, interviews, and methodologies outlined by Dell Hymes (1974) and Richard Bauman (1977). Both modern Hardcore and Hip Hop appear to encourage a strong sense of locality and place, encouraging a deeply felt sense of belonging that is driven by both geographic location and musical engagement. Additionally, both genres of music seem to be driven by participants involved with a number of social justice issues, including combating racism and homelessness through music, art and acts of peaceful protest. Finally, participants involved in modern Hardcore and Hip Hop appear to develop profound and musically driven relationships with peers in their communities of practice.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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