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Pavlos Kavouras (Athens): Ethnographies of dialogical singing, dialogical ethnography (Karpathos, Greece)

To account for the dialogics of culture in a dialogical manner, ethnographers should, at least, employ a dialectical, that is non-empiricist and non-positivist, orientation, as the dialogical principle differs greatly from the dialectic one. Yet, despite their fundamental differences, they both express transformational modalities that run contrary to any static or deterministic rendering of a cultural reality. While dialectic constitutes a transformational modality in the natural science paradigm, the dialogic is its counterpart in the interpretive paradigm. This means that the dialogical principle can be best demonstrated in regards with a multiplicity of interpretations. Since interpretations are made and remade continuously and are produced for and negotiated by various audiences, the use of the concept of performance, which implies both the realization and assessment of an interpretation, seems to be compatible with the interpretive process as such. Thus, the notions of “performance” and “dialogue” can be usefully employed together in an interpretative context. Ethnographers may identify performances of the dialogic in a culture, as well as dialogical modalities in the performance of a cultural process. Although cultural performances vary from every day activities to highly formalized ones, it is important to deal with both as juxtaposed realities. One such instance of cultural performance is the performance of music, especially dialogical singing. Few ethnographers have dealt with this subject in detail. As a form of cultural dialogics, dialogical singing is encountered in many societies of the eastern Mediterranean. In this lecture Prof. Kavouras’s focus will be on an extempore dialogical singing ceremony encountered on the Greek island of Karpathos where he has conducted extensive fieldwork and published scholarly works both in English and in Greek.
Pavlos Kavouras is professor of the Faculty of Music Studies at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. His areas of academic expertise are cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology. Head of the Department of Ethnomusicology and Cultural Anthropology and Director of the University Laboratory bearing the same name, he is also the Director and co-founder of the Graduate Programme “Music Culture and Communication: Anthropological and Communicational Approaches of Music,” run jointly by the Faculty of Music Studies and the Faculty of Communication and Mass Media of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015. 05:15 PM


Bldg. 110, Rm. 112


Event co-sponsored by University Seminars Program of the Onassis Foundation (USA)




Free and open to the public.  5 pm reception followed by 5:15 talk.