2008 Scholar: PROF. DAVID B. COPLAN

28 March 2008, 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Arch Crest Room


"South Africa Sonically"

Event Schedule:

10:00 – 10:20 AM

Registration and Refreshments (free)


10:20 – 10:30 AM

Opening Remarks: Dr. Lee Cassanelli, ASC Director & Dr. Jack Nagel, SAS Assoc. Dean


10:30 – 12:00 PM

Panel 1: "In Township Today: South African City Music of the Past and Present"

Moderator: Dr. Carol Muller, Music Dept.


Glenn Holtzman (Anthropology of Music)

Garry Bertholf (Historical Musicology)

Herve Tchumkam (French)


12:00 –1:00 PM 

Lunch (provided)


1:00 – 3:00 PM 

Panel 2: "Migrancy, Travel, and Poetics in Africa"

1:00–2:00: Film Screening: Songs of the Adventurers

2:00–3:00   Moderator: Dr. Lee Cassanelli, History


Oleosi Ntshebe (Demography)

John Meyers (Anthropology of Music)

Ellen Scott (Mellon Post–Doctoral Fellow, Cinema Studies)


3:00 – 3:15 PM

Coffee Break


3:15 – 4:30 PM

Dr. Coplan Keynote Address: "Performing the City: The Music That Made Johannesburg"


4:30 – 5:30 PM 


Co–sponsors: Penn Provost Distinguished Inernational Scholars Series, Departmentof Anthropology, Political Science Department, Dept. of Music


David B. Coplan is Professor and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has also held visiting appointments at institutions as diverse as University of Basel, École des Hautes Études Sciences Sociales (Paris), Rice University, NYU, DePauw University, and the University of Cape Town. He acted as the Chief Researcher for the “Mobilising Culture and Heritage for Nation Building” in South Africa’s Arts and Culture Department and worked as an ethnographic research consultant for University of Pennsylvania Museum and International Library of African Music.

Professor Coplan has received awards and grants from Fulbright–Hayes, SSRC, NEH, ACLS, Human Sciences Research Council, Wenner–Gren Foundation, the National Arts Council of South Africa, and the Ernst Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.

He is the author of In Township Townight!, a seminal ethnomusicological work and the first comprehensive study of South African black performance. Winner of the Herskovitz Award from the African Studies Association, In Township Tonight ! is currently in its second edition. Coplan is also the author of In the Time of Cannibals: Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants, and editor of Lyrics of the Basotho Migrants.

Professor Coplan received his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1980 at Indiana University as an advisee of Alan Merriam. He has carried out fieldwork in Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Ghana, and the United States.

Dr. Coplan's Recent fieldwork and research:

  • Eastern Free State and Lesotho, 1997–1998: cultural and social dynamics of cross–border interaction and migration in the Caledon River valley
  • Cape Town, 1994: operation and impact of Musical Action for People's Progress in disadvantaged communities in the Cape Flats
  • Lesotho, 1993–1994: impact of changes in the migrant labour system on communities in Lesotho and implications for future migrant labour policy
  • South Africa, 1991: interviews for the Late Editions Project, sponsored by the Dept. of Anthropology, Rice University; Lesotho and South Africa, June 1988–June 1989: Basotho ethnography and oral literature.

Selected Publications: Books:

  • 1995 Lyrics of the Basotho migrants. Translations of African historical documents series. Madison: University of Wisconsin.
  • 1994 In the time of cannibals: word music of South Africa's Basotho migrants. Chicago: University of Chicago; Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.
  • 1985 In township tonight! South Africa's black city music and theater. London ; New York: Longman ; Johannesburg: Raven Press, 1985. (French edition, published in 1990 by Karthala)


For inquiries please contact:

Dr.Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D, aadinar@sas.upenn.edu

(215) 898-6610