Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Katherine Meizel

Committee Member(s)

Marc Blecher, Chair
Baron Pineda
Gregory Barz


Malawi, HIV/AIDS, Non-Governmental Organizations, Contact zones, Semiotics, Applied ethnomusicology


Blighted by nation-wide HIV and deforestation crises, the nation of Malawi plays host to scores of international Non-Governmental Organizations every year. This project focuses on one such organization, World Camp Incorporated, and its use of musical strategies in the implementation of educational outreach programs in rural primary school classrooms. Throughout a four-day curriculum, music is called upon to energize students, galvanize classroom unity, convey curricular concepts, and re-present medical information to host communities. Much has been written about music's affective and effective power as demonstrated through local community-based organizations, but this ethnographic project resituates music as a tool for social change in the cross-cultural context of international aid. Through the historical and political contextualization of World Camp's presence in host communities, I suggest that volunteers' dominant cultural status enables them pedagogical latitude in the classroom and a unique discursive space where horizontal, symmetrical relationships with their students are possible. Through songs and dances each morning, volunteers seek to foster social cohesion with their students, an encounter to which I apply Thomas Turino's semiotic theory as an analytical metric. In community gatherings at the conclusion of each "camp," classes of students utilize music and drama to re-present messages about HIV and other social challenges faced by Malawians. The resulting hybridized musical genre often weds Malawian folk music idioms to medical and behavioral concepts from World Camp's curriculum. Drawing on the work of performance theorists, I assess the degree to which these performances both celebrate and subvert rural societal structures amid students' efforts to combat local social problems.


Bachelor of Arts, Third World Studies.