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Volume 84 (2016)

Rythmer les corps pour socialiser. Ethnologie des activités récréatives du djembé au Québec

February 21, 2018


The djembe––a West African hand drum––along with its traditional Mandingo repertory, had been globalized by the end of the 20th century. In Québec, the cultural appropriation of the djembe goes far beyond artistic expression. Other social uses can be observed such as: therapy, team building, intercultural learning, and cultural leisure. This article presents the results of a survey conducted among recreational djembe players. In a moment of leisure, why would someone choose to hit an African drum? Exoticism would be an easy explanation for why someone plays the African djembe in North American society. However, this research shows that beyond exoticism there are more pragmatic reasons. The ethnological data presented here, based on Marcel Mauss and André Leroi-Gourhan’s traditional rhythm anthropology theory, shows that recreational djembe playing is a collective praxeology that aims to create social corporeality. This collective process works in a bodily symbiotic relationship, which is created through the hand drum rhythm. The result is a curative effect: the release of stress caused by the participant’s lifestyle.