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The Accordion in the AmericasKlezmer, Polka, Tango, Zydeco, and More!$
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Helena Simonett

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037207

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037207.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

From Chanky-Chank to Yankee Chanks

From Chanky-Chank to Yankee Chanks

The Cajun Accordion as Identity Symbol

(p.44) 3 From Chanky-Chank to Yankee Chanks
The Accordion in the Americas

Mark F. Dewitt

University of Illinois Press

The diatonic button accordion has been played by musicians the world over, but it has attained a uniquely prominent status in Louisiana Cajun culture. Over the decades, this one particular type of accordion has served as a tabula rasa onto which have been projected changing views of Cajun music and the status of Cajun ethnic identity. This chapter shows how the changing politics of identity in post-civil rights America has enabled Cajuns to turn the accordion's (and their own) “chanky-chank” (low-class) stigma into a powerful symbol of ethnic identity and pride. Cajuns' renewed interest in and valuation of accordion music has also spilled over to a young generation of musicians, including non-Cajun “Yankee chank” accordion players.

Keywords:   Cajun culture, Cajun music, ethnic identity, diatonic button accordion, musical instruments, low class, Louisiana

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