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By Gage Averill

The historical past of Haiti during the 20th century has been marked through oppression by the hands of colonial and dictatorial overlords. yet set by contrast "day for the hunter" has been a "day for the prey," a heritage of resistance, and occasionally of triumph. With prepared cultural and ancient knowledge, Gage Averill exhibits that Haiti's shiny and expressive track has been essentially the most hugely charged tools during this struggle—one within which strength, politics, and resistance are inextricably fused.

Averill explores such diversified genres as Haitian jazz, troubadour traditions, Vodou-jazz, konpa, mini-djaz, new new release, and roots song. He examines the complicated interplay of tune with strength in contexts equivalent to honorific rituals, subsidized road celebrations, Carnival, and social pursuits that span the political spectrum.

With firsthand debts through musicians, photographs, music texts, and ethnographic descriptions, this booklet explores the profound manifestations of strength and music within the daily efforts of standard Haitians to upward push above political repression.

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Additional resources for A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey: Popular Music and Power in Haiti (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology)

Example text

Euphemisms, double entendres, metaphors of various kinds, coded messages, homonymic puns, and allusions are all deployed to thicken the play of the text. These tropes of indirect signification increasingly make their way 18 Chapter One into urban popular music between the 1930s and the 1990s from their “home” in traditional rural and lower-class forms. ^^ Betiz may deal with sex acts, especially intercourse or anal intercourse, or dwell playfully on male and female genitalia. The goal may be to humiliate a named or implied subject, but often the joy in public, collective transgressions of upper-class and Catholic speech norms is reward enough.

The model of power in Haiti that emerges from many different types of informal discourse is a very spatial model. To say someone gen &ye (has behind) is to imply that there is someone more powerful backing him or her up. There is a popular Haitian proverb that can mean many things in many different contexts: Deyk mon, gen mon (Behind mountains are mountains), but one of its common meanings is that behind every person, there is someone more powerful. To have someone who can get things done for you, someone who is better placed or connected, is to have a m o m pa w (literally, someone for you).

Thus, betiz, which Elizabeth McAlister calls “sexualized popular laughter,” can function much like a pwen or it can function more to signify the “liberated or nonrepressed character of lower-class speech in carnivalesque Betiz gets some of its political efficacy from the common tropes in Haiti by which relations of power are sexualized and gendered (with anal intercourse standing for a humiliating triumph of one over another). Like the act of voye pwen, betiz lyrics make their way into popular music through years of exposure at carnival, through the texts of twoubadou singers, and through the incorporation of peasant themes and rhetoric in roots music fusions from the 1940s on.

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