Book Reviews

Review of Dan Bendrups’ Singing and Survival: The Music of Easter Island

Singing and Survival: The Music of Easter Island. By Dan Bendrups

Book cover of Singing and Survival

Singing and Survival: The Music of Easter Island. By Dan Bendrups. Pp. 224. ( Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford,  2019. ISBN 978-0-19-029703-9 (hard cover), £64; -029704-6 (paperback), £16.99.)

I was lucky to get to review Dan Bendrups’ book on musical sustainability on Easter Island–a welcome example of how musical sustainability can be a paradigm for ethnographic writing.

From the review:

This history and ethnography of music on the island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Isla de Pascua) highlights not just cultural survival, but cultural thriving, through the decimation of a population, centuries of imperialist exploitation, and their aftermath.

Rapa Nui is known to outsiders primarily through the mystery of its stone statues or moai, and the myth of ecocide that wrongly blames its ancient population for destroying the environment and thereby itself. To counter this myth, Dan Bendrups emphasizes that the ancient Rapa Nui people did not die of self-induced ecocide, but on the contrary survived and developed a thriving culture despite the far greater threats they faced from colonial exploitation. 

Read more…

Anna Stirr, Music and Letters, Volume 101, Issue 4, November 2020, Pages 765–767, Published: 07 April 2021