Thomas J. Kies F'20

Thomas J. Kies
Instructor (Associate Professor)
Social Sciences
Berkeley City College

Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships 2020
Instructor (Associate Professor)
Social Sciences
Berkeley City College
Resounding Strings: Narratives of Musical Instrument Making and Aesthetics in Peru and Bolivia

“Resounding Strings” explores the practice of musical instrument making of the charango, a small ten-stringed lute, in Peru and Bolivia. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in three specifically targeted communities—La Paz and Aiquile, Bolivia and Cusco, Peru—the research uncovers how lives and livelihoods of artisans revolve around the production and sale of this unique stringed instrument. This project showcases the importance these luthiers have in the Andean region and also explores the ongoing evolution of their craft. Through the documentation of the musical instrument makers’ own narratives of their work practices, it asks: What does it mean to be a handcrafting artisan of the charango in this day and age? The luthiers’ workshops, while quite small in terms of square footage, are rich with ethnographic information and enable a place and space for situating the performative role that these artisans play within the cultural landscape of highland South America.