Drummers, Identities, and Modern Punjab
Author: Gibb Schreffler
Writing the drummers into the story of contemporary dhol
Cloth – $110
Paper – $28
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 12/28/2021
Cloth: 12/28/2021
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About the Book

An icon of global Punjabi culture, the dhol drum inspires an unbridled love for the instrument far beyond its application to regional vernacular music. Yet the identities of dhol players within their local communities and the broadly conceived Punjabi nation remain obscure.

Gibb Schreffler draws on two decades of research to investigate dhol's place among the cultural formations within Punjabi communities. Analyzing the identities of musicians, Schreffler illuminates concepts of musical performance, looks at how these concepts help create or articulate Punjabi social structure, and explores identity construction at the intersections of ethnicity, class, and nationality in Punjab and the diaspora. As he shows, understanding the identities of dhol players is an ethical necessity that acknowledges their place in Punjabi cultural history and helps to repair their representation.

An engaging and rich ethnography, Dhol reveals a beloved instrumental form and the musical and social practices of its overlooked performers.

* Publication supported by a grant from Pomona College.

About the Author

Gibb Schreffler is an associate professor of music at Pomona College. He is the author of Boxing the Compass: A Century and a Half of Discourse about Sailors’ Chanties.


"Written with great intimacy and compassion, Dhol: Drummers, Identities, and Modern Punjab is a study of the aspirations and negotiations of those who love the dhol and live the life of a dholi. . . . The book is also a welcome addition to a burgeoning body of work that seeks to reexamine the abundance of drumming traditions in South Asia on its own terms." --Journal of Folklore Research Reviews

"Highly recommended." --Choice


"A compassionately written and deeply researched ethnography and historiography of dhol playing in Punjab as well as the Punjabi diaspora in North American and the United Kingdom. It paves new ground in assessing the mutual interaction between these distinct populations while demonstrating the challenges that face dhol-playing communities due to neoliberalism, cultural nationalism, and the growth and financial clout of the Punjabi diaspora."--Stefan Fiol, author of Recasting Folk in the Himalayas: Indian Music, Media, and Social Mobility