Home in the making: place, body and music in migratory practices of movement

PhD Thesis

Sheehy, Kerri-Anne R.. 2012. Home in the making: place, body and music in migratory practices of movement. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

Home in the making: place, body and music in migratory practices of movement

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorSheehy, Kerri-Anne R.
SupervisorBarker, Bryce
Johnson, Laurie
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages288

This thesis brings an exploration of place to music and migration as embodied practices. It draws on over twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in a major regional inland city, which has seen increased migration in recent years owing to a policy of regional settlement. The focus on forging links between place and body in musical and migratory movement contributes to theoretical understandings of home and movement. I argue that place is not anywhere but is wherever place is sensed. In accordance with this study’s explicit concern with movement, a multi-sited strategy is employed. Data were gathered through a series of ethnographic conversations reflecting on music with individual migrants from many different cultural, social, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and a choir of migrant and non-migrant women ‘singing songs from around the world’.

The thesis employs specific phenomenological theorists of embodiment to explore music and migration through lenses of sensuous embodied movement. In line with recent critiques of practice concepts in anthropology, it makes use of applications of phenomenology to understandings of practice, highlighting the usefulness of such lenses, specifically for situations where habitual movement is disrupted. In addition, anthropological conceptions of landscape assist in grounding, in music, practices of movement between places, and aid in grasping the relationships between place, movement, memory and hybridity.

The analyses centre on these migrants’ linkages between music and life through ‘the beat’. I discuss how ‘the beat’, for these migrants, is a metaphor connecting place and body, and is metonymic of movement, particularly in relation to the character of movement between social bodies and between social bodies and places. I explore the significance of the pervasive sounding of ‘the beat’ in musical events and activities as well as its verbal association with therapeutic practices of music among these migrants and the choir. Music is how these migrants’ hope and how they cope with the problems and opportunities of everyday life. ‘The beat’ is a gendered metaphor for natural, social and culturally patterned sound, suggesting relationships between place and memory through the common perception that ‘the beat’ links social bodies. Practices of music and embodied migratory movement involve managing expectations of naturalised relationships between social bodies and places. This involves strategic practices of generating physical capital for the migrant body through managing physiological processes linked to sensuous embodied emotion.

Keywordsplace; embodiment; emotion; habit; migratory movement; music phenomenology; practice
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020441013. Sociology of migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism
470210. Globalisation and culture
360306. Musicology and ethnomusicology
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
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Exploring transnational sentiment through embodied practices of music and migratory movement
Sheehy, Kerri-Anne. 2010. "Exploring transnational sentiment through embodied practices of music and migratory movement." Hayes, Anna and Mason, Robert (ed.) Migrant Security 2010: Citizenship and Social Inclusion in a Transnational Era. Toowoomba, Australia 15 - 16 Jul 2010 Toowoomba, Australia.