Stefan Fiol is an Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He researches music, dance, ritual practice, media, and the histories of commercial and folkloric cultural representation the Uttarakhand Himalayas and North India. His monograph Recasting Folk in the Himalayas: Indian Music, Media and Social Mobility was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2017. His research can also be found in Ethnomusicology, Journal of Asian Studies, Ethnomusicology Forum, Asian Music, Journal of South Asian Popular Culture and Yearbook for Traditional Music
Listening to popular music is a central means by which people construct their place in the world, both literally and figuratively. For Garhwalis living inside and outside of the Himalayas, listening to vernacular popular music has been one way in which they imagine themselves to be part of a specific place and a larger cultural region. Displacement is a major theme of these songs, and practices of listening underline the mobile and trans-local aspects of life for many Garhwalis. In order to assess the impact of popular music consumption on notions of place, and vice versa, this article provides ethnographic vignettes of musical consumption in Garhwali villages and small towns, Garhwali pilgrimage sites, and migrant contexts outside of Garhwal. I suggest that much of the emotional salience and enduring popularity of Garhwali gīt derive from the emotional and physical displacement of married women and male migrants.
The author would like to acknowledge Andrew Alter, Noé Dinnerstein, Anna Morcom, Anna Stirr, two anonymous reviewers, and the editors of HIMALAYA for refining the ideas in this article. I express my deepest appreciation to Dr. Datta Ram Purohit and Dr. Shekhar Pathak for their unyielding support of my fieldwork in Uttarakhand, as well as financial support from Fulbright-Hays, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Fiol, Stefan. 2018. Listening to Garhwali Popular Music in and out of Place. HIMALAYA 38(1).
Available at: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol38/iss1/15