Master of Arts (MA)
Geography and Anthropology
The rural juke joint is a phenomenon that has been mentioned quite frequently in literature pertaining to blues music, but has not received the amount of scholarly attention that it deserves. This social institution is an integral part of the Mississippi Delta’s cultural landscape. Over time, it has developed a dual reputation as a fun place for weekend entertainment, and also a dangerous place for sin and vice. Using qualitative methods, this thesis explores a modern-day juke joint located in Waterproof, Louisiana, a small town in the northeast part of the state. It is the goal of this research to show how this particular establishment, The Disco 86 Lounge, compares to narratives and other historical literature written about juke joints in the early part of the twentieth century. In doing so, it addresses broader issues relating to changes in the surrounding community and landscape, such as out-migration and economic decline. This thesis also seeks to understand what the bar means to this local community. By using techniques such as ethnographic interviews and participant observation, I focus on the social activities of the local residents and the roles that the bar plays in the community. I also show how its patrons use this gathering place to form a meaningful sense of place and identity. Overall, this thesis provides a holistic picture of the social, historical, and cultural aspects surrounding this contemporary Delta juke joint.
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Debnam, Kristopher Ian, "A sense of community and community change: an ethnographic study of a contemporary Louisiana juke joint as it compares to historical literature on the subject" (2009). LSU Master's Theses. 1299.