The Mekong Region Shared Culture: Observation from REPfest Wold Music Festival

Author: Phina So (Cambodian Living Arts)
Speaker: Phina So
Topic: Documenting language
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


In 2017, Cambodian Living Arts hosts the first edition of REPfest, a world music festival featuring a diverse programme of music from the Mekong region focusing on the Greater Mekong region’s “living heritage”; the art, culture, and everyday practices that shape people’s lives. The festival aims to facilitate cultural exchange among the performers from different countries, to bring audiences and performers together in an effort to create mutually beneficial communities, and to promote peaceful relationship in the region through shared culture. This small study takes the REPfest opportunity to explore the experiences of participating artists, audiences, staff, and volunteers.

Employing interview and observation during the REPfest and a small online survey after the event, this study finds out three questions: 1) Do people involved in the festival (artists, volunteers and audiences) feel there is “shared culture” in the region? 2) What do people think about ideas of ‘traditional arts’ and ‘creative arts’ – do they think they are the same or different? What purpose do they think each one has e.g. identity, expression, 3) Do people involved in the festival feel that their national identity and their cultural identity is the same thing or a different thing? Or they have a completely different idea about their identity? This paper hopes to build a baseline of knowledge around the shared culture of the Mekong region for future work.

Keywords: Shared culture, Mekong region, national identity, traditional arts, creative arts