Banjos, Whales, and The King's Birthday: A Sailor Meets the Tongan People

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

  • Research & Collections Center, Springfield

Fee: 

Free, Donations Appreciated

Brown Bag Program presented by presenter Sharon Graf, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Illinois-Springfield

Dr. Sharon Graf explores the culture of a little known geographic area, Tonga, examining artistic interactions between local artists, community members, and visitors as a multifunctional social encounter that forges connections between Tonga and the world beyond its beaches. This exploration is based on participant observation data collected in Tonga and other Pacific Islands in 2010-11 and follow-up fieldwork in Vava’u Tonga in 2017. The initial fieldwork was conducted while Graf was one of two crewmembers travelling aboard an offshore sailing vessel from St. Louis, Missouri to Bundaberg Australia. On her most recent trip to Vava'u, Tonga she  participated in musical performance, whale swims, and the annual celebration of the Birthday of His Majesty King Tupou VI (July 4th 2017). Her perspective as a scholar of vernacular American Folk Art, a string musician, a sailor, and a visitor to numerous Pacific Islands, offers depth to insights gained in this study of the role of the arts in helping Tongans meet the challenges of being an independent Kingdom while remaining connected to greater networks over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

Bring your lunch and join us for a different speaker and topic on the third Wednesday of each month. Brown Bag Lectures are held at the ISM Research & Collections Center at 1011 E. Ash St. in Springfield. The Collections Center must be accessed via the gate on Ash St. and approached from 11th Street or further east due to the rail closure at Ash and 10 ½ Streets. For additional information, please contact events@illinoisstatemuseum.org or (217) 558-6696.

 

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