Who's Singing Now?: Exploring the Effects of Reframing Lo Monthang's Musical Dialogue

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Blumenthal, Katey 

This talk concerns the ethical dilemmas presented during 2009 fieldwork that sought to archive and disseminate the folk song repertoire of Lo, an ethnically Tibetan region in the Nepali Himalaya. Tashi Tsering, the official singer of the royal court of Lo, is the last remaining singer of the region's lineage of musicians. While he performs apotropaic offerings of music to the Buddhist cosmology, Lo residents peripheralise him because he is a low-class member and considered to be highly impure. As recording sessions with Tashi Tsering progressed, social interactions were stirred, identities questioned, and I came to assume unexpected roles in Lo’s social setting. Through detailing various social interactions, this talk discusses the complex social dynamics encountered during field research and the necessity of researchers to consider fieldwork methodology to be a flexible process.

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