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Theses and Dissertations

Musical taste, performance, and identity among West African Canadians Open Access


Other title
African Canadian
West African
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Friesen, Carinna J
Supervisor and department
Frishkopf, Michael (Music)
Examining committee member and department
Spinetti, Federico (Music)
Frishkopf, Michael (Music)
Thompson, Guy (History and Classics)
Department of Music

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
In this thesis I consider the role of music in the construction of identity among West African Canadians, focusing on musical taste and performance. Drawing on themes from participant narratives, I look at how music can maintain connections with or reference identities from “home” cultures. Focusing specifically on popular music, I suggest that identification with genres such as hip hop and reggae does not directly imply an identification with the African American or Afro-Caribbean cultures from which they originated, rather I point to how the music refers back to West Africa. I also look at the place of music and religious identity, discussing how performance of religious music embodies multiple registers of individual and communal identity. Traditional music and dance ensembles provide another focus, and I explore how musicians transmit cultural practices and use their profession to foreground West African elements of their identity in Canada’s multicultural society.
License granted by Carinna Friesen ( on 2010-05-23T06:03:59Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Draft 7
File author: Cari Friesen
Page count: 164
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