Dick, T, 2013, Reconciling kastom, tourism, art in the Pacific: the case of the Leweton Cultural Group and “water music”, working paper.
Post-colonial Vanuatu is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse
countries in the world. Ni-Vanuatu cultural performers present themselves as
local, national, and international actors simultaneously by allowing outsiders
to witness and engage with their living cultural expressions or “kastom”.
Contemporary ni-Vanuatu communities are establishing themselves as
distinct and differentiated “cultural villages”, often in urban settings away from
traditional or kastom places.
Taking the case of the Mwerlap-speaking diaspora from the islands of Gaua
and Merelava who perform “water music”. I will investigate the forces at play
in the transitioning of the Mwerlap-speaking diaspora into the Leweton
Cultural Village. I will track the trajectory of the Leweton Cultural Village as an
enterprise operating locally, nationally, and internationally, with these scales
of activity providing markers for my research. I will present this research as a
PhD incorporating four interlinked publications.
The project will involve a single case study, the Leweton Cultural
Group/Village with embedded or multiple units of analysis. Taking a critical
realist approach I will conduct an ethnography using semi-structured
interviews and participant engagement to explore how these embedded units
intergrade and provide critical recommendations about policy development in
the areas of cultural heritage maintenance, tourism, and artistic and cultural