Music and Masculinity in the Civil Wars 'Gospel Army
Ohio State UP 2017
Conjuring Freedom: Music and Masculinity in the Civil Wars Gospel Army analyzes the songs of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, a regiment of Black soldiers who met nightly in the performance of the ring shout. In this study, acknowledging the importance of conjure as a religious, political, and epistemological practice, Johari Jabir demonstrates how the musical performance allowed troop members to embody new identities in relation to national citizenship, militarism, and masculinity in more inclusive ways. Jabir also establishes how these musical practices of the regiment persisted long after the Civil War in Black culture, resisting, for instance, the paternalism and co-optive state antiracism of the film Glory, and the assumption that Blacks need to be deracinated to be full citizens.
Reflecting the structure of the ring shoutthe counterclockwise song, dance, drum, and story in African American history and cultureConjuring Freedom offers three new concepts to cultural studies in order to describe the practices, techniques, and implications of the troops performance: (1) Black Communal Conservatories, borrowing from Robert Farris Thompsons invisible academies to describe the structural but spontaneous quality of black music-making, (2) Listening Hermeneutics, which accounts for the generative and material affects of sound on meaning-making, and (3) Sonic Politics, which points to the political implications of musics use in contemporary representations of race and history.