James Clifford, Professor in the History of Consciousness Program and
Director of the Center for Cultural Studies at the University of
California, Santa Cruz will present the Charles Seeger Lecture at the
37th Annual Conference of the Society. Clifford’s lecture is tentatively
titled, "Sites of Crossing: Borders and Diasporas in Expressive
Clifford’s recent work focuses on transnational and
cultural processes—the movements of populations and cultural forms
across national boundaries, the impact of such movements, and the
resilience of cultural forms in diaspora. He is concerned with how
cultural forms perpetuate themselves through syncretism. Although much
of Clifford’s work does not deal directly with music, he has had a
life-long interest in folk and bluegrass musics, and his theoretical
work has important implications for understanding music in culturally
His work is also important for the analysis of
musical traditions in cultures where diversity may not be recognized.
"Cultural forms have always had to sustain themselves in new
conditions,” Clifford notes, and he challenges the concepts of
authenticity and purity that ground accepted histories of traditions.
For example, the representation of Appalachian country music as being
derived exclusively from English ballads has led to preservation efforts
that excise hybrid influences and restrict the development of this
Clifford holds a Ph.D. in history from Harvard, but is
best known for his work in anthropology and cultural theory. His work
focuses on cross-cultural representation. He co-edited Writing Culture: the Poetics and Politics of Ethnography and is the author of The Predicament of Culture: 20th Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. He also has done work on the history of museums and collecting.