Macquarie University
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Public postures, private positions: baila and Sydney Sri Lankans

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:57 authored by Gina Ismene Shenaz Chitty
Sri Lankan baila is a hybrid cultural form, a multi-cultural fusion o f melodic, lyrical and dance elements. After offering a personal preface that explains my interest in examining the diasporic usage of baila in Sydney, my first challenge is to provide an account of baila's prediasporic social history and to introduce the flavour and characteristics (musicological, lyrical and semantic) of baila to the reader. These challenges have drawn me to a slightly less than conventional structure, including a review o f the literature across several chapters. But the structure is one that is a logical choice in addressing my goals. My 'Introduction' will serve the essential purpose of providing a social historical backdrop for Sri Lankan baila, from the genre's sixteenth-century beginnings to it's use in the Sri Lankan diaspora in the twenty-first century. A typology of meanings of the baila to various groups will be introduced in this chapter, positioning diasporic usage. A musicological and lyrical analysis will be conducted in Chapter One, in order to provide a description of baila. My objective, introduced at the end o f the social history, is to ascertain the usage of the baila in the Sri Lankan diasporic community in Sydney with a view to throwing light on ambivalent attitudes toward the music and dance genre, will require the development and use of an interview based research methodology. Preparing for the development of methodology. Chapter Two will discuss music, community and the character of Sri Lankan diaspora in Sydney. Importantly, it will draw on Nietzsche in elaborating on the notion of a false dichotomy (important because of post-colonial belief patterns in Sri Lanka,) which I believe may explain a Sri Lankan migrants' use of baila. I will develop the notion of false dichotomies into a framework of analysis in Chapter Three and describe my methodology for researching the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Sydney. In Chapter Four I will discuss my interviews with migrants drawn from more and less Anglicised categories of Sri Lankans. I will discuss my interviews with the children of migrants in Chapter Five, before discussing my findings, in relation to my objective and identifying areas for future research, in Chapter Six.


Table of Contents

Introduction: social history of baila -- Musicological and lyrical analyses -- Music, community, Nietzsche and Sydney Sri Lankans -- Methodology for researching diasporic baila usage -- Migrants' engagement with baila in Sydney -- Children of the diaspora -- Singing without shame?


Includes bibliographical references and index

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Division of Humanities, Department of Contemporary Music Studies

Department, Centre or School

Division of Humanities

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Philip Hayward


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Gina Ismene Shenaz Chitty 2013.




Sri Lanka


1 online resource (xvii, 226 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers

mq:30681 2134699