Music and Migration: The Role of Networking and Transcultural Capital for West African Musicians in the Netherlands

Iye Echa | University of Amsterdam | Music and Migration: The Role of Networking and Transcultural Capital for West African Musicians in the Netherlands | Supervisors | Julia Kursell & Barbara Titus | 2014-2018

This research investigates the artistic contributions of some West Africans musicians who have migrated and settled in the Netherlands. West African musicians are active in the Dutch music scene as performers, music/dance instructors, and instrument makers or as repairers and music entrepreneurs. Some of these musicians have built a successful music career for themselves by teaching and performing music from Africa and in so doing, introduced African music into Dutch culture. This project will investigate how these musicians have been able to turn their music into full-time profession with monetary returns. Various forms of cultural capital are brought from Africa to Europe and exchanged for economic capital (money) such as: musical instruments (djembe, kora, and others), repertoires and techniques used to play these instruments. So, for these musicians their country of origin continues to play a significant role in their lives even in diaspora. This research will use the theory of trans-cultural capital put forward by the cultural studies scholars Meinhof and Triandafyllidou to investigate, how the musicians acquired skills as well as their dependence on their country of origin have added value for them in the Netherlands. Before their eventual travel abroad, some of these musicians would have been active in the local music scene in their home countries and may have built sustainable networks with various partners. This project will also investigate the role of networking for these musicians by examining the role of trans-local and transnational network strategies in the lives of these musicians.