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1992 Lecture: James Clifford
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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 Culture.”

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 diverse societies.

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 music.

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.
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