What does it mean to play “someone else’s music”? Intimate Distance delves into this question through a focus on Bolivian musicians who tour Japan playing Andean music and Japanese audiences who often go beyond fandom to take up these musical forms as hobbyists and even as professional musicians. Michelle Bigenho conducted part of her ethnographic research while performing with Bolivian musicians as they toured Japan. Drawing on interviews with Bolivian musicians, as well as Japanese fans and performers of these traditions, Bigenho explores how transcultural intimacy is produced at the site of Andean music and its performances.
Bolivians and Japanese involved in these musical practices often express narratives of intimacy and racial belonging that reference shared but unspecified indigenous ancestors. Along with revealing the story of Bolivian music’s route to Japan and interpreting the transnational staging of indigenous worlds, Bigenho examines these stories of closeness, thereby unsettling the East-West binary that often structures many discussions of cultural difference and exotic fantasy.
"Michelle Bigenho's dazzling new book probes the fascinating, unexpected story of Japan's romance with Andean music. Her ethnography tacks between Bolivia and Japan, and illuminates an economy of music, livelihood, and attraction that Bigenho triangulates through her own research as an anthropologist and a mistress herself of the Andean fiddle. Her smart, sophisticated analysis speaks to debates about indigeneity, music and performance, and the dialectics of history, desire, and globalization in a multipolar world. It's a book as adroit, intricate, and sometimes very moving as the lilting Andean folk melodies that Bigenho and her Bolivian bandmates played so many nights as they toured across the island." Orin Starn, author of Ishi's Brain: In Search of America's Last "Wild" Indian "Michelle Bigenho does a brilliant job of combing the Japanese literature (in English), integrating theory, and pushing her own theoretical contribution. The creativity and analytic perspective of the approach makes the work add considerably to existing literature. To the ethnomusicological literature, Bigenho adds theoretical rigor and broad perspectives such as race projects, nationhood, and the ethnographic project. To the race literature, she adds a new transnational perspective that is grounded in performance." Christine Yano, author of Airborne Dreams: "Nisei" Stewardesses and Pan American World Airways
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 248
Published: 7th May 2012
Dimensions (cm): 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.363