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Free Content Song and the Presence of Absent Communities

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This essay is in two parts the first an academic argument, the second a loosely woven presentation of song lyric fragments and images that parallels concerns expressed in the first. The aim is to indicate why certain types of old, quasipagan songs might help a particular section of the population develop another sense of place and community. Using a distinction between metropolitan locals and the commitment of certain artists to an ethical identification with necessary limits inherent in community as understood by local cosmopolitans, I argue from greater attention to collective, communal, and social practices typified here by walking and song that are rooted in the lived realities and shared needs of ordinary people. I do so in the context of Edward S. Casey's claim that place, despite our assumption that it is a static entity, is best understood as an essay in experimental living within a changing culture. Declining to side either with phenomenologically-inclined promoters of enchantment or post-structural advocates of the primacy of absence, I seek to validate a particular and endless oscillation between these positions an oscillation I find performed in exemplary fashion by certain songs in their capacity to simultaneously enchant and to remember absence in the context of the animistic values of a now absent indigenous community.

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Keywords: absence; community; enchantment; place; song; walking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of the West of England.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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