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Andean readings
    Land of winds > Recommended readings > Recommended readings | Issue 18 (Mar.-Apr. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Intimate distance

Michelle Bigenho
Intimate distance: Andean music in Japan
(Durhan [NC]: Duke University Press, 2012)
Illustr. – 248 pp.


What does it mean to play "someone else’s music"? Intimate Distance delves into this question through a focus on Bolivian musicians who tour Japan playing Andean music and Japanese audiences, who often go beyond fandom to take up these musical forms as hobbyists and even as professional musicians. Michelle Bigenho conducted part of her ethnographic research while performing with Bolivian musicians as they toured Japan. Drawing on interviews with Bolivian musicians as well as Japanese fans and performers of these traditions, Bigenho explores how transcultural intimacy is produced at the site of Andean music and its performances.

Bolivians and Japanese involved in these musical practices often express narratives of intimacy and racial belonging that reference shared but unspecified indigenous ancestors. Along with revealing the story of Bolivian music's route to Japan and interpreting the transnational staging of indigenous worlds, Bigenho examines these stories of closeness, thereby unsettling the East-West binary that often structures many discussions of cultural difference and exotic fantasy.

Michelle Bigenho is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Hampshire College. She is the author of Sounding Indigenous: Authenticity in Bolivian Music Performance.

[Excerpt from the article published by Duke University Press].


Article. "Intimate Distance: Andean Music in Japan". [Review]. In Duke University Press.


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