Name: Ceri Whatley
PhD: African Studies and Anthropology
Thesis Title: Musical traffic: transnationalism and reconstruction in Rwanda and Uganda (working title)
My project explores new forms of transnationalism within Africa through the lens of contemporary, popular music genres. Most notably: Afro-beats (or Afro-pop), Afro-R&B, hip-hop, dancehall, and raga (a sub-genre of dancehall reggae). Also, 'traditional' Rwandan music and dance, and gospel. Focusing on "musical traffic” – both physical and digital – between Kigali-Rwanda and Kampala-Uganda, I am exploring the role of culture in post-conflict reconstruction. My focus is on the Rwandan side and I am particularly interested in the construction of new Rwandan identities, post-genocide (post-1994).
My research is based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork which I conducted in Rwanda and Uganda. My fieldwork was based on participant observation and also included 30 in-depth interviews with male and female musicians, audio/video producers, studio managers, and radio/TV presenters and journalists. I was based in Kigali-Rwanda, but traveled with Rwandan musicians as they moved between Rwanda and Uganda in order to trace networks, links and exchanges. While in Rwanda, I undertook 180 hours of Kinyarwanda language training. My multi-methodological approach includes an analysis of lyrics and performance styles. Rwandan musicians sing (or rap) in Kinyarwanda, English, Luganda, Swahili and French. With the help of my teacher, I was able to translate the lyrics of 80 carefully selected songs.
Between September and December 2015, I taught Introduction to African Culture (INTAC), a first year undergraduate course at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology (University of Birmingham). Under the guidance of Dr Stewart Brown, I took full responsibility for delivering (and updating) all of the lectures and seminars, as well as marking assessments. I have since delivered numerous additional guest lectures and have organised several student trips, including a visit to the West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition at the British Library, in London.
I have presented my work at KU Leuven University, where I undertook a one-month placement in April 2016. I successfully convened a panel in the African Studies Association of the UK biennial conference (ASAUK '16), which took place at the University of Cambridge (7-9 September 2016). My panel was entitled: "Music that moved you: popular music and mobilities in Africa." My panel attracted much interest from leading scholars in my field, and included presentations by Professor Kelly Askew and Professor Liz Gunner.
I am currently writing my thesis.
Supervisors and Institution(s): Professor Karin Barber, University of Birmingham; Dr Katrien Pype, University of Birmingham / KU Leuven University.
Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):
- Whatley, C. (2016) “Eric 1Key, an artist who represents a modern but complicated Rwanda,” True Africa: http://trueafrica.co/article/eric-1key-an-artist-who-represents-a-modern-but-complicated-rwanda/
- Whatley, C. (2016) “Eric 1Key’s Entre 2 (4 song reviews),” Africa in Words: https://africainwords.com/?s=Ceri+Whatley&x=0&y=0
- Whatley, C. (2016) “Entre 2 – Album Decoded,” Eric 1Key’s blog (11 song reviews): https://eric1key.com/category/entre-2-decoded/
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