You can download the abstract book here.
Chican@ Artivistas: Music, Community and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles
Wed 10 May, at 10:15, Language Center: Festive Hall
A conflation of two words; artista (artist) and activista (activist), artivista signals more than just an identity. As Gonzalez will demonstrate, artivismo is a philosophy and way of existing through music and art practice. In discussing her book Chican@ Artivistas (UT Austin Press 2020), Gonzalez will share the varying ways music methods have been implemented in East Los Angeles as a way to resist, organize and build community beyond the confines of the stage. In this way Chican@ Artivistas is a critical examination of artist/activist in East Los Angeles from 1990's into the present. Although the book project recognizes that earlier generations of Chican@ movement artists strived to advance social justice issues through music and art practices, Gonzalez's analysis is focused on the ways in which a new generation of artists from East LA learned from their elders, yet moved in new directions by utilizing their skills as artists to not only build and strengthen community, but doing so by drawing on music and art as tools of dialogue. Inspired by the Mayan Zapatista Movement that came onto international consciousness in 1994, Chicano and Chicana artists in East LA began to focus on creative expression as verb and action rather than object or commodity.
Martha Gonzalez is a Chicana artivista (artist-activist), musician and feminist researcher, known for her groundbreaking activist projects at the intersection of academic, artistic, and community work. Since 2013, she has worked as an Associate Professor for the Intercollegiate Department of Chicanx-Latinx Studies at the Scripps Women’s College in Claremont, California, US. A specialist in Chicana feminist theory, Chican@ music, and performance studies, Gonzalez’s research is significantly rooted in her experiences as an activist musician and community organizer – as a singer-songwriter and percussionist for the East Los Angeles based and Grammy Award (2013) winning rock band Quetzal. Along with her partner Quetzal Flores, Gonzalez has been instrumental in catalyzing the transnational dialogue between Chicanx/Latinx communities in the US and Jarocho communities in Veracruz, Mexico. The importance of public scholarship is highlighted in all Gonzalez’s work, in which she develops creative engagements with music as a tool for cultural dialogue, political commentary, social justice, and community building.
Gonzalez’s publications include, for example, Chican@ Artivistas: Music, Community, and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles (2020); A de Activista (Spanish Children’s literature and adaptation to Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist, 2014); Entre Mujeres: Women Making Music Across Borders (music album, 2013); and Quetzal – Imaginaries (music album 2012). Recently Gonzalez has been working with The Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) on Collective Songwriting Method, implemented, for example, in correctional facilities in the US.
Aaron S. Allen
Ecomusicological Listening as Activism
Thu 11 May, at 12:00, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
What does it mean to listen ecomusicologically? I suggest that ecomusicological listening is not definable – yet it is nevertheless discussable. As an extension of ecomusicologies, which in the plural is a way of understanding the interdisciplinary field of music and environment studies known as ecomusicology, some varieties of ecomusicological listening can be understood as activist, particularly in the context of the Anthropocene. After providing a few frameworks for ecomusicology, I will theorize activism as working to change power dynamics for life and relate it to music and sound studies. A few case studies will help illustrate ecomusicologies, listening ecomusicologically, and activism. I conclude with a few provocations to consider and do ecomusicological listening as activism.
Aaron S. Allen is one of the leading developers of ecocritical music research, i.e., ecomusicology. He is the director of the Environment & Sustainability Program and an associate professor of musicology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (US). Having background in both music and environmental studies, Allen has undertaken cutting-edge work in ecomusicology for almost two decades. He has published seminal articles and books, organized professional networks, and raised awareness and interest into the research area. He has developed and institutionalized environmental education and sustainability in academic curricula.
Among Allen’s research interests include the foundations of ecomusicology, sustainability issues in music and music scholarship, conceptions of nature and environment in Western classical music, and campus environmental activism. With Kevin Dawe he has co-edited the award-winning collection Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Culture, Nature (Routledge 2016). Currently he is co-editing a volume entitled Sounds, Ecologies, Musics (Oxford University Press) (with Jeff Todd Titon). Allen is originally from rural West Virginia, and his interests as an outdoors person, environmentalist, and woodworker result from his time on the family farm.
Revelation and Revolution: The Connection of Black Feminist Theory and the Arts
Fri 12 May, at 12:00, Language Center: Festive Hall
In our mechanic and data-driven world, the most impactful institutions equate social transformation with measurability. The idea that a work of art can lead to transformation in unmeasurable ways is itself a lost art form. At the same time, creativity itself is increasingly stifled by algorithms and measurability. Social movements have sometimes advocated that works of art should promote progressive change as a duty. Is there more to creativity than these assumptions imply? My talk will explore this question with Black feminism as a guide.
Minna Salami is a Nigerian, Finnish, and Swedish feminist author and social critic at The New Institute and an independent writer, researcher, and lecturer. Her research focuses on black feminist theory, contemporary African thought, and the politics of knowledge production.
Minna is the author of Can Feminism Be African? (forthcoming William Collins 2024) which explores key themes of African feminism; Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach for Everyone (Bloomsbury/Zed, 2020) which reimagines universal concepts through a black feminist framework, and The Power Book: What is it, Who Has it, and Why? The Politics of Provocation, a co-authored children’s book. She has written for the Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Philosopher, and The Independent among others, and is the founder of the multi-award-winning blog MsAfropolitan which has drawn over a million readers. Minna frequently speaks at international platforms including TEDx, Oxford University, Yale University, Oxford Union, Cambridge Union, the European Parliament, and the Singularity University at NASA. Minna’s academic background is in Political Science and Gender Studies with a specialization in feminist theory from SOAS, University of London. She sits on the council of The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the boards of The African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University, The Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Sahel, the Emerge network, and is an associate with Perspectiva. Her books are translated into multiple languages.
Kirsti Salmi-Niklander, Lotta Leiwo, Saku Pinta, Marija Dalbello, and John Westmoreland
T-Bone Slim – a songwriter, an activist, and a hobo
Thu 11 May, at 16:00, Language Center: Festive Hall and online
Chair: Saijaleena Rantanen
Matti Valentininpoika Huhta (1882–1942), better known under his pseudonym “T-Bone Slim”, was one of the most seminal figures in the US Labor movement, IWW (International Workers of the World). However, he stayed out of the limelight and his identity remained as a mystery to most of his readers. Matti V. Huhta was born in a Finnish speaking immigrant family in Ashtabula (OH) but learned English in school. After his young years in American Finnish temperance movement and starting a family in Erie (PA) in the early 1900s, Huhta left his family to live as a “hobo”. The details of his life during the 1910s are fragmented, but he became an activist in the IWW movement, and started his literary career as a columnist, poet, and a songwriter “T-Bone Slim” at the beginning of the 1920s.
Kone foundation funded project “T-Bone Slim and the transnational poetics of the migrant left in North America” (2022–2023) explores the life, networks, and “counter literary” career of T-Bone Slim. After his tragic death, his texts have continued to inspire the Chicago surrealist movement and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and activists today. In this roundtable T-Bone Slim project’s researchers discuss the interconnections of T-Bone Slim’s life and work in the broader transnational context of the Labor movement. Furthermore, the project’s musician John Westmoreland performs new renditions of T-Bone Slim’s texts.
Kirsti Salmi-Niklander and Lotta Leiwo, University of Helsinki
Music and poetry in Ashtabula and Erie during T-Bone Slim’s childhood and youth
T-Bone Slim was born in 1882 in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio. This was harbor community with many migrant groups employed in the docks. Ashtabula had a reputation as a “rough” and violent city – but it had a lively cultural life. Later, the family moved to another harbor community, Erie. T-Bone Slim worked on the docks, raised a family and was active in the Finnish temperance society. We will explore the music and poetry, which were available to T-Bone Slim in his childhood and youth. Our analysis is based on the Finnish-language books and newspapers published in Ashtabula in the late 19th century, preserved in the National Library of Finland. Kalle Potti’s novel Iloinen harbori (“Harbor of Joy” 1924) also includes many references to the oral culture in the Finnish community in Ashtabula. These fragmentary materials can provide some new perspectives to the transnational influences of T-Bone Slim’s poetry.
Saku Pinta, University of Winnipeg
The Mysteries of Other Popular Wobblies
This paper will contextualize the music and culture of the IWW with reference to two of T-Bone Slim's lesser-known contemporaries: the Finnish-American songwriter and poet George Blad and Canadian songwriter and humourist Pork Chop Slim. In so doing, the paper will explore themes of anonymity, class, and cultures of resistance within the many worlds that T-Bone Slim inhabited.
Marija Dalbello, Rutgers University
The Workers' Dream and Rebel Worker Group Poets
Interconnections between music, poetry, print, performance, parody, and political agitation distinguish the activism practiced by the members of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). Widely documented are printed leaflets circulating songs with instructions for singing or theatrical productions. For example, a brochure distributed at the I.W.W. Tenth Convention Ball in Chicago on November 25, 1916, included a dance card and a program from which we learn about the showing of the one-act sketch by Joe Foley, “The Jungles: One Phase of the Migratory Workers Life.” The working-class poets who wrote about incarceration or migratory life often intended their poetry to be sung to familiar Christian tunes or known popular melodies. Focusing on the period of the late 1910s and early 1920s, I will discuss several narrative poems and ballad-like compositions that doubled as lyrics for popular melodies (found in the archives of L.S. Chumley, an activist of the I.W.W. and editor of the Rebel Worker). For example, “My Wandering Boy” is a poem about a jailed migrant worker (‘wandering boy’) intended for public recitation. “We’ll Be There” is a Lew Maisel poem to be sung to the “tune” of T-bone Slim’s “They go wild, simply wild, over me” (itself a parody of a popular 1917 song). Whether performed in barrooms, ballrooms, protests, or jail, these forms reveal a sensibility that Jacques Rancière identifies in the working-class emancipation of the body.
T-bone Slim “Mostly Song”
Musician, researcher, and great grandnephew of T-bone Slim, John Westmoreland, will perform new renditions of some of his Finnish American relative’s published and unpublished songs and poems. There will be brief reflections and commentary between the musical performances as well as an introduction consisting of T-bone Slim's own words as printed in his April, 5th 1924 column in the Industrial Worker – “Mostly Song”.
Kirsti Salmi-Niklander is University Lecturer and Docent in Folklore Studies at Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki. Her research interests include vernacular literacy, oral history research, working-class culture and immigrant culture. She is the Principal Investigator of the research and artistic project “T-Bone Slim and the Transnational Poetics of the Migrant Left in North America”, funded by Kone foundation 2022-2023. Her recent publications include Handwritten Newspapers. An Alternative Medium during the Early Modern and Modern Periods, co-edited with Heiko Droste (Studia Fennica Historica 26, Finnish Literature Society 2019) and Reading Home Cultures Through Books, co-edited with Marija Dalbello (Routledge 2022).
Lotta Leiwo is a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki majoring in Folkloristics and minoring in Religious and North American Studies. Her interests include handwritten and immigrant newspapers, immigrant place making and working-class leisure and relationship with the nature in early 20th century Finland and North America. In addition to currently working on her Master’s thesis about North American Finnish women’s socialist newspaper Toveritar, she is the research assistant in research project “T-Bone Slim and the transnational poetics of the migrant left in North America”.
Dr. Saku Pinta (instructor in the Labour Studies Program at the University of Manitoba) has concentrated on two overlapping areas in his academic research. The politics and history of labor radicalisms, concentrating on the intersections and ideological morphologies of transatlantic anarchisms and Marxisms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Marija Dalbello is a Professor of Information Studies at Rutgers University, USA. Her publications focus on text/image relations, history of the book and libraries, and sensoria of migration. She coedited Visible Writings: Cultures, Forms, Readings (2011) with Mary Shaw, A History of Modern Librarianship: Constructing the Heritage of Western Cultures (2015) with Wayne A. Wiegand, Reading Home Cultures Through Books (2022) with Kirsti Salmi-Niklander, Global Voices from the Women's Library at the World's Columbian Exposition (forthcoming) with Sarah Wadsworth, and several thematic issues. She is a past board chair of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing.
John Westmoreland is an American songwriter and musician who has performed across the US and internationally. His debut album of original songs, Cast Fire, was released in 2019. Since 2017 he has also been an independent researcher working on projects centered around the life, music, and poetry of his forgotten Finnish-American great granduncle — Matti V. Huhta — who was better known as the mysterious hobo songwriter, poet, and IWW columnist, T-Bone Slim.
Baljit Kaur, Markus Hetheier, and Celeste Cantor-Stephens
Sonic Rebellions: Music, Resistance and Social Justice
Thu 11 May, at 16:00, Topelia: C 120
Sonic Rebellions is a new project exploring the relationship between sound and social justice. It aims to build an international symposium, with a particular focus on decoloniality, radical politics, and participation. As a collective of artist-activist-academics, we encourage experiential and interactive discussion and draw upon our own practices and lived experience. This panel will feature three Sonic Rebels discussing their work for the forthcoming Sonic Rebellions book in summer 2023, including:
Baljit Kaur, University of Sussex
The American Dream ‘Made in LDN’: Young People’s Production of Rap Music in the Neoliberal Youth Club
Musicians, like writers, can illuminate the ‘problems of a particular society’ (Diala-Ogamba 2007: 30). Rap music, a black Atlantic musical form is considered a notable example in which messages of social critique are embedded within the voice of an MC [Master of ceremonies] (Martinez 1997). East London is the birthplace of grime, a subgenre of rap music that emerged from young people’s marginalisation. Institutions such as youth clubs played an integral role in the artistic development of a number of widely recognised figures within London’s grime scene – it is where many semi-famous and famous artists polished their skills.
In light of this, the paper draws on ten months of fieldwork conducted at Bass Youth Club’s [pseudonym] music studio in East London. It provides an ethnographic account of young people’s lived experiences, particularly the ‘every night, everyday’ violence which has seemingly become the normal conditions of young men’s lives. The paper illuminates their rap lyrics which speak to and crucially expose structural and institutional violence. In the same breath, the paper demonstrates the ways in which neoliberal logics of hard work, aspiration, individual responsibility and success permeate institutions like Bass Youth Club and influence their ability to support, shape and suppress rap cultures.
Through this lens, the paper draws on the youth club’s partnership with multi-national corporation, Apple, and its ‘Made in LDN’ programme which encourages the ‘higher tier’ of artists to take up performance opportunities and ultimately ‘make it’ in the music industry. The paper demonstrates the shift from illuminating the problems of society to lyrics that generate mass appeal and are considered commercially successful. The paper fundamentally asks whether such music programmes are viable solutions to young people’s marginalisation in East London, or whether they serve to obscure opportunities for social critique and resist the status quo.
Markus Hetheier, Manchester Metropolitan University
Queer Resistance: DIY Culture in Manchester’s Electronic Music Scene
DIY culture can function as a site of resistance for queer people within the electronic music scene. It opposes the corporate music industry and provides a space for queer people to empower themselves through electronic music performance. The author will present the Manchester-based queer electronica night FLUFF as a case study. The night was set up by Anna Appleby (performing as Norrisette) and the author (performing as Industries) as a response to their desire to perform their electronic music live once Covid restrictions were lifted, with the aim to also connect with and platform fellow queer electronic musicians. The author will reflect on FLUFF in relation to DIY as a culture of resistance through a conversation between Anna and him. This will inform a toolkit for artists intended to assist with navigating the UK music landscape.
Key words: DIY culture, electronic music, queer resistance
Border Spaces and Sounds of Resistance
For some people, the act of crossing borders is itself a form of activism, of rebellion, of resistance and resilience, whether explicit or involuntary. Far from the naturally-occurring geographic boundaries we often imagine, national borders are a constructed phenomena: places where bodies are politicised, ordered and policed. Rather than neat lines on a map, they can extend over vast expanses, becoming whole spaces: makeshift refugee camps, detention centres, so-called 'hostile environments' that envelop entire countries… For those who inhabit these extended border areas, stability, safety and rights can disappear.
What role does music play in these spaces and experiences? What place does sound have in the lives of those who are trapped at border camps, and face ongoing systems of subjugation and marginalisation? How does musicking contribute to resistance, resilience and different forms of activism at the border?
Leading with stories and encounters from the Franco-British border, this presentation centres on human experience. Vignettes from makeshift camps in Calais, Northern France, bring scenes and events, and their sounds and experiences, to the forefront of this exploration. These are examined more deeply with conceptual support from political, philosophical, and musical thinkers, such as Etienne Balibar, Chowra Makaremi and Tia DeNora.
Music, research and activism interweave in this work. Its primary focus is music as a form of activism in life at border spaces. The research itself also has its origins in activist work, and is both a product and form of this, aiming to combine direct solidarity with bringing information to others and supporting change. Finally, drawing from practices in Deep Listening and creative music-making, this presentation aims to prompt attendees to consider their own relationships with sound, listening, and how these might help shape the spaces they inhabit and experiences within them.
Baljit Kaur is a late-stage doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, UK. Her research provides an ethnographic account of young people’s experiences of violence in East London. Baljit’s research fundamentally explores the ways in which young people use music, particularly the production of rap music, at a youth club to narrate their lived experiences, and in so doing expose structural and institutional violence. Additionally, her research also explores the ways in which the youth club supports, shapes and suppresses rap cultures in line with neoliberal logics and in a new political moment of levelling up.
Markus Hetheier is an electronic music producer, arts facilitator and researcher. Currently, he is undertaking his practice-based PhD at the School of Digital Arts (SODA) within the Manchester Metropolitan University where he is working on a digital media project using sonic mapping to express the relationship between the affective sonic self and Manchester.
Celeste Cantor-Stephens is a musician, educator-facilitator and researcher-writer, working at an intersection of arts and social justice. She focuses in particular on borders, forced displacement, and lived experiences of these. Celeste holds an MPhil (University of Cambridge) and an MSt (University of Oxford). She was recently awarded funding from Arts Council England to continue her exploration of relationships between sound, music and social justice, with an emphasis on borders and displacement. Her artistic and pedagogic work is creative and exploratory, led by human experience and expression; Celeste's written and interdisciplinary work reflects this too.
June Fileti and Vasileios Stamatis, International School of Musicians
Levelling the Music Playing Field: Diversity and Inclusion in Music. Necessary conditions but are they sufficient for equity?
Fri 12 May, at 10:00, Language Center: sh 205
Diversity, equity and inclusion are growingly referenced as essential goals in Music Education and Music Industry. This session will present the International School of Musicians' work to break down the barriers to music education worldwide. It will explore the transition from a local government initiative in East London (‘Every Child a Musician’ – EcaM), one of the most ethnically diverse and dense areas in the UK, to the International School of Musicians (ISoM) with outreach to learners across the world.
From case studies of these initiatives in East London, demonstrating a commitment to inclusive education and learning for pupils in state primary schools, to an analysis of the existing revenue models of British Examining Boards, this session will analyse inequalities in music education and it will explore ways of reducing them so that all children can access the same social and cultural capital available to those who can afford it.
Activist Research through Action Research: Creating Cultural Capital through Assessment in Instrumental Music Tuition
In 2010, the groundbreaking Every Child a Musician (ECaM) programme was launched in Newham, East London. ECaM was a mass participation programme that provided free musical instruments and four years of free tuition for all children aged 7-11 in the borough’s 65 state primary schools. At the time, Newham was the second most deprived area in England.
Lessons were taught in small groups on a weekly basis for thirty minutes by an instrumental tutor with expert knowledge of the instrument (or its family). The focus was on Western classical orchestral instruments and, for the most part, Western art music. ECaM was a programme designed to enrich the lives of children and that of the wider community, funded entirely by the Newham local government authority.
In order to demonstrate value for money to the taxpayer, assessment opportunities for ECaM pupils were sought through the use of the graded music examination. However, at the time, the graded examination was deemed unsuitable and inaccessible within a group learning context. This led to an action research study spanning three cycles of research impacting the practice of 180 tutors and the learning journey of over 18,000 children. The cyclic nature of the research created a new format of assessment, a performance award graded examination (PAG). The results demonstrated the PAG exam provided cultural capital and social justice for children in music education, developing and building their learning power and independent learning.
Although the programme closed in late 2019, the ethos has continued within the International School of Musicians (ISoM), an initiative still based in Newham, but now delivering the same assessment opportunities worldwide.
This paper looks at the past, present and future of how ISoM is committed to breaking down barriers that prevent children from accessing the same social and cultural capital that is available to those that can afford it or are familiar with how to gain access.
Music Graded examinations revenue model and global inequality: Time for a different approach?
International development agencies have propounded Education and Equity, Inclusion and Diversity as fundamental concepts for the 21st century. The World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR) 2018 is the first ever devoted entirely to education, following the WDR 2006 report that linked Equity and Development in its title and the 2012 report on Gender Equality and Development. The United Nations General Assembly approved, in 2015, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 4 was ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all’.
The first annual Global Education Digest (2003) by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) stated in its foreword that “the knowledge, skills and capabilities needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century depend upon education systems that distribute learning opportunities equitably”. There are still inequalities, though; inequality between the Developed and Developing World, inequality between social classes, and gender inequalities in Educational Participation, to name a few. Is the relationship between education and these inequalities an inevitable feature of capitalist society and economy?
Several methods currently exist for the measurement of the impact of the cost of a service, such as an exam provided by an independent board. This study will analyse the exam fees of four important British Music Examining Boards against a series of macroeconomic indicators – Statutory Nominal Monthly Minimum Wage, Median Monthly Wage, and GNI Per Capita PPP while investigating the inequality within each country using the Gini coefficient. We will explore Consumer Spending Ratios and the sensitivity of each country to the current inflation rate. The advantage of this method is that it allows us to compare the real cost to a candidate in different economies and highlight the underlying inequalities that exist in the current revenue model while investigating whether a different, more equitable approach could be applied.
Dr June Fileti is the managing director of the International School of Musicians (ISoM). She has over 30 years of experience in music education, leading government initiatives specialising in the primary classroom and as an examiner for the University of West London.
Her research interests are in education, assessment and learning technologies that support and enhance the cultural field of music education for both the learner and teacher.
June's ethos is rooted in accessibility and inclusivity and, through ISoM, breaking down barriers to provide world-class music education and assessment opportunities globally for everyone through digital innovation.
Dr Vasileios Stamatis has over 15 years of experience in the Creative Industries as a researcher, educator, composer, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of the International School of Musicians (ISoM).
Being an evaluator for the European Commission's Research Executive Agency, his fields are Music, Digital Arts, Digitalisation and Cultural Heritage, and Performing Arts. As the Course Director at London South Bank University (BA Technical Theatre), he focussed on Creative Industries Business Models, Interactive Technologies, and Multimedia. His research interests include the Evolution of Multimedia forms, Music & Multimedia Art forms, and Cultural & Creative Industries.
Resistance and Community Organisation 1
Session 1, Wed 10 May, at 11:30, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
Gonzalo Carrasco, La Trobe University
The Chilean Social Outburst and ‘nueva canción’: Older musical forms for contemporary resistance
From 2019 to early 2022, Chile endured large-scale protests known as the ‘Estallido Social’ (‘Social Outburst’), triggered by social inequality, discontent with the political class, and the demand for replacing the existing Pinochet-era constitution. In October 2019, over one million people marched through the streets of Santiago whilst President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of emergency. Demonstrators used a range of mediums for expression, like artistic performances in the form of music collaborations; these included renditions of Chilean ‘nueva canción’ (‘new song’) compositions.
Recognised as an enduring Latin American cultural phenomenon combining folk and protest symbolism within its compositions, ‘nueva canción’ remains connected with revolutionary narratives, particularly with the rise of Salvador Allende’s government (Diaz-Inostroza, 2016; McSherry, 2015; Garcia, 2013). Even though it emerged in the early 1960s with Violeta Parra’s contribution and matured in the early 1970s alongside performers like Victor Jara and ensembles such as Quilapayún and Inti-Illimani, the movement has persisted in being deeply connected with Chilean leftist ideals overall.
This paper will explore the active role of ‘nueva canción’ within Chile’s contemporary context of social protests and widespread discontent, looking to decipher how an artistic movement that arguably belongs in the past, can still be accessed and reformulated into contemporary significance. From impromptu collective street performances to more structured and coordinated orchestral renditions, compositions and features of this musical movement continue to function as effective vehicles of expression. This evaluation will attempt to provide a sharper vision of ‘nueva canción’ as a persistent and rich repository of protest culture and revolutionary themes.
Andrade, E. (2020). ‘El derecho de vivir en paz: Víctor Jara a casi un año del estallido social y a 88 de su nacimiento’, Diario Uchile Radio Universidad de Chile: Cultura, 27 Sept. https://radio.uchile.cl/2020/09/27/el-derecho-de-vivir-en-paz-victor-jara-a-cas…
Diaz-Inostroza, P. (2016). Yo no canto por cantar: Cantares de resistencia en el Cono Sur. Fundación Memoriarte.
Fazio, L, Fazio, D and Pineda Ramos, Carlos Andrés (2021). La música del Estallido social chileno: el despertar visto desde la ventana del acontecimiento, Tempo e Argumento, Florianópolis, v. 13, n. 34, Sept/Dec.
Garcia, M. (2013). Canción valiente: 1960-1989, tres décadas de canto social y político en Chile. Ediciones B.
McSherry, P. (2015). Chilean New Song: The Political Power of Music, 1960 - 1973. Temple University Press.
Gonzalo Carrasco is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Inquiry at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne. His research interests lie at the intersection of culture, ideology, and civic engagement, focusing on Latin American protest art. His thesis explores the Chilean Nueva Canción (‘New Song’) movement considering an inclusive context, aiming to broaden this area of investigation by identifying variables shaping this movement’s relative success, including representations, narratives and contemporary renditions. Gonzalo has participated in several conferences and forums, and conducted field research throughout several Chilean regions, investigating the intersection between cultural practice and political ideas.
Sudiipta Shamalii Dowsett, University of New South Wales
Embodied politic of hip-hop: from Khayelitsha, South Africa to Lajamanu, Australia
Hip-hop has long been recognised as a powerful medium of expression for political content and contesting dominant discourses. Within hip-hop scholarship there is a common distinction made between conscious rap and gangsta or party rap. Much of the analysis and understanding of hip-hop’s political capacities has been located in lyrical content, for good reason. Yet, there are other capacities of hip-hop beyond the lyrical, and beyond the explicitly political, that have yet to be fully explored for their transformative and decolonial potential. The core hip-hop ethic to represent combined with the aesthetics of remixing and practices of sampling provides a method for reorienting, reframing, and re-embodying, ancestral knowledge and practice for the future delinking from the colonial discourse of tradition as locked in the past. In doing so hip-hop facilitates a maintenance of ways of being in opposition to colonial thinking, structures and stereotypes. The dominant oppressive discourses countered in much conscious rap all have deep effects on the mind (Thiongo 1985) and the body with profound impact on how bodies are affectively inhabited (Fanon 1967). The embodied affect of coloniality is perpetuated through ‘subtle’ interactions between bodies as Fanon’s reflection on his encounter with the white gaze articulates. Hip hop provides a particular stance, or mode of inhabiting the body – a way of grasping the world (Merleau-Ponty 1964) - of navigating post-apocalyptic lifeworlds through a mode of rhythmic embodied wording that centres knowledge of self and deep connection to place.
Drawing on ethnographic research on Xhosa hip-hop in South Africa and Warlpiri hip-hop in Australia, this paper argues for a sensory understanding of emcee practice, for the hip-hop body as a locus of political practice.
Sudiipta Shamalii Dowsett is a Research Associate at the University of New South Wales working on the ARC Linkage project Indigenous Futurity: Milpirri as Experimental Ceremony. Her broader research focuses on how hip-hop functions as a decolonial practice. Her PhD (2017) on hip-hop in Khayelitsha, South Africa and subsequent work explores how artists utilise hip-hop to make sense of complex neo-colonial contexts, revitalise language and culture, and embody and embed Ancestral art forms within the contemporary global performance culture of hip-hop by active forms of cultural (re)production, remixing, asserting and claiming place in the world.
Radoš Mitrović, University of Arts in Belgrade
Hip Hop Song as the “Soundtrack” of Major Political Upheaval in Montenegro
After adopting the so-called Law on Freedom of Religion in Montenegro, 27.12.2019. massive civil protests were launched. They followed the principles of non-violent civil resistance, with very innovative tactics of activism. Well designed, without violence, with active use of social networks, and especially the so-called meme pages, the citizens managed to fight for the changes that followed in 2020. At these mass demonstrations, appropriate musical songs were also regularly played, among which one stood out, and became a kind of protest soundtrack. It is the song “Sviće, sviće rujna zora” by the socially active hip-hop group Beogradski Sindikat (Belgrade Syndicate). It is based on the elements of traditional Montenegrin music, as well as the song “Još ne sviće rujna zora”. Using, in fact, strong symbolism, which can be found both in music and lyrics, this song sends a clear message and has the function of raising the morale of the protesters. The music video itself was designed as a series of authentic recordings from the protest, i.e. “litije”, as these walks were called. In this sense, the track is full of dramatic elements that affect the emotional awareness of the recipients (currently the song has almost 6 million YouTube views, which, bearing in mind that Montenegro, according to the last census, has a little more than 600,000 inhabitants, is certainly a huge success). In my paper, I will analyze the different levels of meaning of this song, as well as the ways of its effect. It is an activist song, which undoubtedly significantly contributed to the massive fight against, not only the law but also the entire system.
Radoš Mitrović (Радош Митровић) (Belgrade, 1989) PhD. Assistant professor at the Department of Musicology at the Faculty of Music, University of Arts in Belgrade. His main fields of academic interest include contemporary music and aesthetics. He took part of several conferences and round tables organized in Belgrade, as well as international conferences. He published texts in New Sound, Zbornik Matice Srpske za scenske umetnosti i muziku, Art and Media, Muzika, and contributed in monography History of Art in Serbia XX Century, III (Miško Šuvaković, ed) as well as Serbian Encyclopedia (Matica Srpska). In 2014. Faculty of Music in Belgrade published his e-book, titled Mauricio Kagel’s Creative Attitude Towards Musical Tradition. He participated in project Next Generation of the music festival Donaueschinger Musiktage (2012). His work includes critiques and reviews of music concerts and events for the Radio Belgrade 2. He is a member of Serbian Musicological Society and Jornalists’ Association of Serbia.
Resistance and Community Organisation 2
Session 4, Wed 10 May, at 11:30, Topelia: C 120
Nora H. Leidinger, University of Groningen
Baraye Azadi – Music at the 2022 Iranian Feminist Protest Movement
Since the 1979 revolution, women as well as ethnic, religious and queer minorities have been massively oppressed in Iran. Over the years, there have been repeated uprisings against the mullahs' regime, which have been violently dispersed. Following the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Jina Amini in early September 2022 after being taken into custody by the morality police, she has become the leading figure of the biggest protest movement in Iran since 1979. And if she is the face of the movement, the song "Baraye Azadi" ("For Freedom") by Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour is the soundtrack of the protest movement. Hajipour, who was allegedly arrested after the release of this song, assembled the lyrics using hundreds of tweets describing what people in Iran are protesting for (i.e. "for freedom, for my sister, for the future of my kids"), and provided the protesters with a musical voice through this song. In this conference presentation, I will place the Iranian feminist protest wave 2022 in the historical context of women's rights movements in Iran before examining the song "Baraye Azadi" in relation to protest music in Iran in order to draw attention to the specific meaning of this song and to describe why this protest wave is like no previous one.
Nora Leidinger is a research master student in Arts, Media and Literary studies and junior lecturer and researcher in the department of Arts, Culture and Media at the University of Groningen. Her research and teaching deals with intersectional and gendered stereotypes and power dynamics in Music, the Music industry, and other workplaces.
Woojin Na, University of Paris 8
Fan’s activism and collective flourishing: BTS French fan’s social engagement against racism and for environment
Fan communities strategically and organizationally plan and execute collective movements to get what they want. The collective sharing and practice of voting and streaming tutorials clearly demonstrate their movement of strategic consumption as cultural consumers. Some fan communities, such as the BTS fandom, have begun to use this collective power to raise their voices on social issues in addition to using it as a means for their own internal interests. Could this fan activism contribute to human, individual and collective flourishing? On what societal issues does their collective consciousness be awakened? How are movements organized and carried out to make their voices heard? This series of questions will ultimately provide an opportunity to know, at least in part, whether grassroot movement of participatory culture has potential as an alternative to the culture of consumption as Jenkins (2006) hoped and as a lever for individual and collective flourishing for which Hesmondalgh (2013) emphasized the important valeur of music in our individual and collective life. The goal of this study is therefore to analyze the value of the music fan community in our collective life. To do this, we conducted an online ethnographic observation of the Facebook pages of the two BTS fan clubs, who were active in this collective movement en France (BTS France and BTS ARMY France). As a result of the study, it was found that their collective consciousness was more sensitive to environmental and racism issues. They learn how to act for others and for the planet by undertaking various charitable and environmental projects. In particular, when there have been problems of racism towards artists and Asian and black communities, the French ARMY has shown strong cooperation and solidarity to inform and condemn it and to support the collective movement.
Woojin Na: I am a PhD student in Information and Communication Science at the University of Paris 8 and currently belong to the laboratory of CEMTI (Center for Studies on Media, Technology, and Internationalization). My research focuses on the cultural activities of fans of Korean popular music in France and their activism. More generally, I am interested in the study of the transnational reception of popular culture, fan cultures, and participative culture, fan activism, and music industry.
Nina Öhman, University of Helsinki
Mahalia Jackson’s gospel music mastery and the force of the sonic
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) is widely known as “the World’s Greatest Gospel Singer.” A musical pioneer, Jackson fostered African American gospel music’s popularity from a marginalized sacred music expression into a music style embraced not only by American mainstream listeners but also audiences worldwide. In parallel, Jackson’s sacred music, whether she sung in churches, concerts or political events, conveyed a highly effective sonic subtext of social uplift and hope. With an ability to craft an effective musical message to various audiences, Jackson brought gospel music to the highest levels of national attention. For example, scholarship notes her performance of the national anthem of the United States at an inaugural gala for President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as a hallmark of gospel music’s recognition. Jackson also sung the Spiritual “I’ve Been Buked and I’ve Been Scorned” and gospel song “How I Got Over” before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. These two distinct occasions demonstrate her versatility and major accomplishments as a gospel singer. Yet, a closer study of her nationally significant performances suggests that her experiences in politics were more nuanced than current writings indicate. Furthermore, the spiritual dimensions of her musical work remain understudied. Hence, through the study of varied archival sources I seek to offer a newly detailed account of Jackson’s remarkable contributions to American political life.
Nina Öhman, Ph.D. is a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. She is a musicologist/ethnomusicologist studying women’s roles in music cultures, the singing voice, and American popular music. Her interests also include university-community relations and participatory research approaches. Recently she has worked as a University Lecturer in Musicology at the Department of Philosophy, History and Arts, University of Helsinki. She is currently a board member of the Finnish American Studies Association (FASA) and the vice-chair of the Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology (SES).
Resistance and Community Organisation 3
Session 5, Wed 10 May, at 14:00, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
Chicken to Change: When a Song Challenged Robert Mugabe
In 2010 the Afro-Fusion band Freshlyground released the album Radio Africa, which included a song that challenged and mocked then-long-time Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, entitled Chicken to Change. The band was scheduled to perform at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in 2014, but was deported from the country shortly before the concert was to take place and only allowed to return to perform four years later.
The paper wants to position the song and its accompanying music video in the social and political landscape of Zimbabwe at the time and use it as an example to showcase the relationship between music and social/political struggles as well as music as a social/political force. To do this, the situation in Zimbabwe and the position of Robert Mugabe will be retraced to the point of the song’s release and the ensuing consequences.
At the same time, the paper will also look at Freshlyground’s role as a multi-national band addressing social issues in their music. In addition, the consequences of performing the song in Zimbabwe will be highlighted in connection to issues such as artistic freedom and freedom of speech. In this sense, Freshlyground will be looked at as musical activists that try to spread messages for social change in their music, inspiring their audience to take a stand for positive change.
Stefanie Barschdorf is an independent researcher, who completed her PhD at the University of Vienna. Her doctoral research focused on the translation of popular music using the example of French chansons in post-war Germany.
Moira de Kok
Sounds of Solidarity: Music in the 1984–85 Miners’ Strike
Scholars, activists, and musicians often attribute powers of solidarity to music. However, they rarely explain what ‘solidarity’ means, and how music may generate, sustain, strengthen, or express it. This paper therefore investigates how solidarity as a political concept intertwines with musical practices. It develops a model with four prongs: ontology, sociality, mobilisation, and intentionality. Each explores a different facet of solidarity as a relation between people that centres a sense of togetherness and support.
To delimit this research, I focus on popular music during the 1984–85 UK miners’ strike. The strike was a crisis in a period characterised by polarisation not dissimilar to the 2020s. It thus emerges as a relevant moment for the study of music and solidarity. Artists like Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, and Bronski Beat openly supported the miners. Using discourse analysis, musical analysis, and philosophical inquiry, I examine how these musicians and activists mobilised the word ‘solidarity’ when discussing music, what this music sounded like, and what these discourses and sounds uncover about perceptions of solidarity and music’s connection to politics.
I argue that ‘solidarity’ is a multivalent and underdefined, yet rhetorically powerful word. It is therefore perfectly suited to imbue popular music with political meaning and agency, particularly during moments of crisis. In turn, popular music is perceived as a medium that can rescue solidarity from extinction, co-construct its meaning, and broadcast this meaning to the people. Musicological analysis can reveal underlying assumptions about solidarity, including its fundamental processes of in- and exclusion. Music researchers can therefore make meaningful contributions to both scholarship and activism, by critically investigating the history and use of concepts central to the connection between music and politics.
Moira de Kok recently graduated with an MA in Musicology from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She is broadly interested in the intersections between music, media, and socio-political themes. A prime example of this is her master’s thesis on the connection between solidarity and popular music in the 1984–85 miners’ strike, which she will present in abridged form at the Music, Research, and Activism conference. Other enduring interests include the Eurovision Song Contest, the aesthetics of music on YouTube, and music’s ability to cross and blur diegetic lines. She is currently preparing for her PhD journey.
Mathieu Guillien, Université d’Évry
The Politics of Techno
From chanson française to chilean Nueva canción, popular music from the twentieth century often stems from political movements. More than most, the African-American musical tradition, born in slavery, is in itself a statement of political and cultural resistance. During the second half of the twentieth century, this tradition both enhanced and sublimed the Civil Rights movement through soul music, funk and rap.
With the advent of the hip-hop culture, another music genre, albeit African-American as well, was significantly overlooked : namely techno. Amongst other clues explaining this incongruity, we can pinpoint the proximity of techno with disco and the LGBTIQ culture, as well as more strictly musical specificities such as techno's absence of lyrics, which made the genre a less likely candidate than rap to champion the political message arising from the African-American ghetto.
Another bias is at work when considering the political dimension of techno. Indeed, rather than immediately associating the genre with African-American societal issues, one generally considers techno to be correlated with key political moments of the European popular music scene : the English youth rebelling against the Thatcher administration, the suppression of the rave scene in France, or the German reunification, when Berlin became the epicenter of a cultural renewal with techno as its soundtrack.
Through a study of Underground Resistance, the prominent techno label from Detroit, the goal of our paper is to highlight the inherent activism of techno, from its anti-capitalist creed to the defense of the Native American cultural heritage, by way of environmental and social justice issues, anti-war protest and defense of cultural diversity.
Born in Paris in 1983, Mathieu Guillien discovered electronic dance music at the age of 10. Already following a classical music training to become a pianist, various encounters encouraged him to eventually undertake academic studies and write about techno music, at a time when such a topic was unwelcome in the French academia. This led to the completion of his doctoral thesis in 2011, published three years later under the title La Techno minimale. He has been teaching the history of African-American music between 2005 and 2015 at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University, and since 2017 at the University of Evry.
Resistance and Community Organisation 4
Session 8, Wed 10 May, at 14:00, Topelia: C 120
Dominik Schlienger, University of the Arts Helsinki, and Liisa Tuomi, University of Helsinki
Gaia Lava – A low carbon performance stage
In this joint presentation, we introduce the Gaia Lava project, a (low carbon) platform for artistic research and practices.
Gaia Stage (or Gaia Lava) is a zero-carbon performance stage for music and other performances and art events. Its main power source are generator bikes, swings, and weights — kinetic energy produced by the participating audience, additionally supported by locally sourced wind and solar power. Rather than using batteries as buffer storage, the energy shall be stored in a water-filled flywheel.
Gaia Stage implements alternative, simple, and sustainable technologies in a socially sustainable way: the organisation to run Gaia Stage, will be a rekisteröity yhdistys, and everybody who works for it shall be paid the same wage. As an association, Gaia Stage can raise money through organising events – but it can also receive donations tax free, and will be independent from investors who expect returns. Artists who perform on Gaia Stage hence know that every cent goes back into a more sustainable infrastructure.
Gaia Stage as an organisation has 3 aims:
1.) Raising awareness of environmental issues in the music industry and beyond.
2.) Providing a (low carbon) platform for artistic research and practices.
3.) Development of alternative economic models for infrastructure projects in the music industry
Gaia stage is experimental in multiple ways: it enables experimental performance practices, experimental technologies, even experimental social economy. The experimental possibilities engender a whole series of research questions.
The multidisciplinary nature of the project, its definition via artistic practice and conceptual art, is only possible through a multitude of independences:
Gaia Stage is not associated to one university in particular, so it can get involved with a number of them, and even engender collaborations across institutions. As Gaia Stage is not a business either, there are no commercial conflicts between academia and the business world. Its techniques and technologies are developed according to participatory design principles and entirely open source.
Gaia Stage enables emergent research: Through its experimental nature, new research topics can emerge, not everything is predetermined: Experimentation, and non-predetermination are important principles in the Gaia Lava project.
Liisa Tuomi Dr. Mus, MSc Sociology, recently defended her thesis “Pop Singer in the Media. Representation of Women in Pop Music in the Finnish Newspapers and Magazines of the Early 2000s” at University Helsinki, Finland. Her Master’s thesis researched the “Liveaboards”- community in Bristol.
Dominik Schlienger, MSc, is a musician and composer-researcher. He graduated with a MSc Audio Production from UWE Bristol in 2012. In Finland, he joined the Research Group on Interdisciplinary Improvisation in 2011. He defends his Doctoral thesis on agency in technology on 19.11.2022 at SibA UNIARTS Helsinki.
Brigitta Davidjants and Marju Raju, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
Identity and Mental Health. Case study of LGBTQ+ Mixed Choir Vikerlased
Music is a powerful tool for regulating emotions and maintaining mental well-being. Making music together connects people, as 'our music' creates a sense of belonging and unity. Choral singing has been a common activity among minority and under-represented groups, as well as by people with similar values. In our study, we examine the motivation of the members of the Estonian LGBTQ+ mixed choir Vikerlased (founded in 2017), focusing on psychological and identity-political aspects of singing. Furthermore, we look at how the joint singing contributes to the mental well-being of the choir members, both on the individual and group level, including within the choir and as supposedly people with LGBTQ+ identity in Estonian society. More broadly, we look at a globally widespread phenomenon – identity-based music – in a local context, focusing on the concert experience at the LGBTQ+ community's most symbolic series of events, the Pride Festival in Helsinki. For data gathering, we will use combined methods: participatory observation, a questionnaire and focus group interviews. Results will be analysed globally and locally within the local LGBTQ+ movement history and the Estonian choir movement.
Brigitta Davidjants studies the subcultural organization during the transition from late socialism to a post-communist society in Estonia. Her emphasis is on doubly marginalized identities that fall outside mainstream culture and are also peripheral to the relevant subculture because of gender, ethnicity, or gender representation. Besides, she has been active in the local human rights movement..
Marju Raju is a music psychology researcher and lecturer. Her academic works have been published in Musicae Scientiae, Psychology of Music, Res Musica, Scientific Data and Trames. Raju has also worked as a research advisor at the Ministry of Social Affairs, where she was responsible for national applied research projects on social, equality, labour and health policy.
Riikka Suhonen (Hannele Cantell, Hanna Weselius, and Terhi Kouvo), University of Helsinki and Aalto University
Decades of singing together about societal causes that matter: Case study of a choir in Finland
The paper examines how an amateur choir can act as a platform for civic participation and as a community for learning. Nearly five percent of Finns sing in a choir, but little research has explored the potential of such music hobbies to become spaces for social and environmental activism.
Our case study focuses on the Finnish mixed choir Koiton Laulu that is well known for its strong linkages to the political song movement in the 1970s. We wanted to examine what kind of societal causes the choir has prioritised in its activities from 1970s to 2020s, and how the choir supports the growth of its members as humans.
The data consist of semi-structured individual interviews (N=16) and two Timeout group dialogue discussions (N=27) organised with members of the choir in the fall of 2020. Interviewees had joined the choir at various times in the past five decades. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse the data, using the concepts of ecosocial Bildung, inclusion and collaborative learning as theoretical background.
Our results indicate that Koiton Laulu still maintains its traditional themes of labour rights, peace, and international solidarity, but the past two decades have brought global sustainability issues such as human rights and environmental issues more to the forefront. Although the repertoire and performances of the choir lean strongly on the values of social justice, the ideals of equity in participation do not always materialize within the choir itself. According to the interviewees, challenges in the internal functioning of the choir could be addressed through increased dialogue promoting safer, equal, and pluralistic interaction.
The research findings will be composed into a choral piece and performed at an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of Koiton Laulu in early 2023. Parts of that piece could potentially be played during the paper presentation.
The research team is composed of chorists from interdisciplinary backgrounds: MA Riikka Suhonen is a Doctoral Researcher in the Faculty of Educational Sciences (University of Helsinki) with background in humanities and social sciences; Dr. Hannele Cantell is Associate Professor and University Lecturer in the Faculty of Educational Sciences (University of Helsinki); Dr. Hanna Weselius is University Lecturer in Photography in the Department of Art and Media (Aalto University), and MA Terhi Kouvo with background in Ethnology is currently working within science publishing in the field of adult education.
Resistance and Community Organisation 5
Session 12, Wed 10 May, at 15:45, Topelia: C 120
Sam Coley, Birmingham City University
Ballade de la Désescalade: Profiling Graeme Allwright as Activist
This paper explores the life and work of musician/activist Graeme Allwright and considers his legacy as a champion of social justice. When Allwright died in 2020 at the age of 93, his obituary in Le Monde referred to him as “a humanist singer with an atypical life” and hailed his early songs as “the anthems” of the 68 French student rebellion. Allwright’s translations/adaptations of protest songs by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, amongst others, made the socialist themes of 50s, 60s American folk music accessible to French audiences and especially resonated with the ‘soixante-huitards’ who brought down the Gaullist regime. I consider the distinctions between Allwright’s interpretations and the original works he translated, alongside an assessment of his own protest related compositions. The paper then explores the various protest movements Allwright was aligned to throughout his life and considers how these causes impacted on his musical output. Allwright was a truly global artist. Born in New Zealand in 1926, he moved to France in 1948 and subsequently travelled the world, capturing experiences that fed into his work. His repertoire was intensely humanist: consistently anti-militarist, anti-nuclear, and anti-consumerism. Yet while he was well known in the 60s and 70s, I suggest his refusal to follow traditional artist/fan relationships led to his marginalisation in later life. This paper calls for a reappraisal of Allwright’s position in the pantheon of ‘la chanson Francaise’, and as an influencer of French left-wing counterculture.
Dr Sam Coley is Associate Professor (International) for the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University UK, where he teaches a range of audio production modules. Coley is a member of the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research with interests in the fields of popular music and radio documentary / podcast production. Coley has produced several documentaries and presented conference papers about Prince and David Bowie and continues to work as a freelance radio documentary producer. He has served as a Grand Jury member of the New York Radio Festival since 2012.
Ondřej Daniel, Charles University
Czech Punk, Activism and Research
From the very outset, an ‘anti-system’ stance was integral to Czech adaptations of punk (sub)culture. This was expressed not only in opposition to the Communist state, with its police, army, education and psychiatric facilities, but also in attacks on the ‘conformist’ working class under late socialism and particularly on the Roma community, who were seen as a Communist-protected minority. As such, some punks engaged in radically anti-social acts that resembled those of the predominantly right-wing skinheads and hooligans. Meanwhile, a new and more self-reflective group of Czech punks with ties to alternative culture was voicing its opposition to fascism and moving steadily towards anarchism. Anarchist punks, in particular, were instrumental in organizing the first groups to oppose the far right. They were joined by other young members of alternative scenes, including relatively new ones that had emerged among Czech young people at the end of 1980s (for example, skateboarding and hardcore scenes) as well as some remnants of former underground and alternative groups under socialism. While Czech antifascism after 1989/1990 was based to some degree on a blank slate after the fall of the communist dictatorship, research on earlier modes of anti-fascism has helped identify key anti-fascist tropes, particularly from Germany. Both the history of political violence in western Germany and the German autonomist movement strongly influenced Czech antifascism. As a result, the latter tended to have a revolutionary mission that understood antifascism as the first step in the radical re-building of society. Research in punk fanzines of the early 1990s, also proved their green anarchist leanings by opposing nuclear energy, promoting the activities of Animal Liberation Front, and with critiques of militarism, and the direct action tactics of radical ecologists were also put into practice in violent protests against the annual horse race in Pardubice in 1991 and 1992.
Ondřej Daniel, PhD is working as a historian in the Seminar on General and Comparative History within the Department of Global History at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. Ondřej is a founding member of the Centre for the Study of Popular Culture. His current work examines intersections of class and culture in contemporary Czech society.
Paola Elean Nieto Paredes, Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
Music, tradition, and bottom-up practices for crossing borders: The diplomatic role of Fandango Fronterizo at the U.S.-Mexico border
The relations between Mexico and the U.S have for long time been marked by multiple crossings, permissions and prohibitions. On the one hand, the distinction of the Mexico-U.S. border as the world’s busiest land crossing point illustrates the dimension of the existing dynamics and flows. On the other hand, the policies and means employed by the U.S. government have been characterized by a material, legal and psychological harshness.
Bottom-up practices, in the form of activism or that use art forms and cultural traditions, have proven to be meaningful in the mediation of intercultural communications between diverse societies, particularly in contexts such as the Mexico-U.S. border where asymmetric power relations exist.
The current paper presents a case study, Fandango Fronterizo. An annual cultural event that operates in the Mexico-U.S. border and whose activities are rooted on a traditional form of community celebration, the fandango, that includes music, dance, and singing.
The aim of this paper is to present the bottom-up organizational practices and means in which social value and justice are created at this event, as well as the impact of this traditional practice to local and migrant communities on the border.
Finally, the non-Western values, principles, narratives, images, socio-cultural outcomes, and other elements produced by Fandango Fronterizo’s practices are assessed in terms of how they mediate intercultural communications between diverse societies. Therefore, proposing the case as an example of non-state, decolonial, and bottom-up form of cultural diplomacy.
Paola Nieto is a cultural manager and performing artist from Mexico City, based in Helsinki. She is experienced on artist management and event production in the fields of music and performing arts. She has worked for several organizations and artists in Finland and Mexico such as Compañía Kaari & Roni Martin, April Jazz Festival, Alejandro Marcovich, JazzMx, and The Cultural Centre of Spain in Mexico.
She holds an MA in Arts Management, Society and Creative Entrepreneurship by the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, with a secondary subject and research focus on Management of Global Cultural Expressions and Diplomacy. Therefore, Paola has interest in developing arts projects that promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding between societies.
Finally, she is a member of Jaranas del Norte, a collective that performs and promotes son jarocho music in Finland.
Resistance and Community Organisation 6
Session 16, Thu 11 May, at 10:00, Topelia: C 120
Chia-An (Victor) Tung, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto
Music Power and Cultural Identity: The Siraya Revitalization Through Activism in Formosa
The Siraya, an ancient and rooted aboriginal people dwelling on the Island of Formosa, have long been marginalized due to the lingering effects of colonization and Sinicization in Taiwan. Yet the Siraya have been strengthened with a spiritual awareness and determination that has helped them to thrive in contemporary Taiwan. Similar to the experiences of other indigenous communities elsewhere in the world, the Siraya people face a struggle to assert their identity and have their rights officially recognized by the Taiwanese government. In recent years, their cause has gained momentum due to the activism of Filipino-Taiwanese musician Edgar Macapili, his Sirayan-based household, and the Sirayan alliance. I investigate and assess the efficacy of Macapili’s musicking advocacy to achieve full official recognition of the Siraya community in Taiwan. In addition, I explore how contextual theology reflects an appreciation for ecology expressed within Siraya Christian music-making. I also analyze how Macapili’s music mediates in a reformed context, and what do cultural rights mean in Siraya music? This prompts the question how the contextualization concept revitalizes Siraya cultural identity, as they continue to deploy music as a vehicle for social justice, with their unrelenting efforts to pressure the Taiwanese government for equity and inclusion, hopefully leading to official recognition.
Chia-An (Victor) Tung was born in Tainan City, Taiwan. He is pursuing a degree in the Masters of Sacred Music program at Emmanuel College, at the University of Toronto. Chia-An is greatly interested in ethnographic approaches to the study of the Chinese Christian diaspora in Toronto and in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His other area of concentration is on music and contextualization study in Formosan Siraya aboriginal music. Chia-An is also an active collaborative pianist and a Taiwanese dialect coach for the Babεl Choir in Toronto. He currently holds the position of church musician at the Toronto Chinese Baptist Church.
Outi Ahonen, Humak University of Applied Science, and Katja Sutela, University of Oulu
Decolonizing music education – experiences of deaf at the centre
In this presentation, we present a sub-study of the Kone Foundation funded research project "Voices of a Silent People - Renovated Bodies", which examines deaf people's experiences of music education and their thoughts on deaf music. A three-year research project at the University of Oulu and Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences combine science and art, focusing on deafness and deaf history. Methodological starting point for the study is oral history research as the focus of the research is on the deaf people's memories of music education.
Based on the interviews (N=85), it is possible to classify the lack of actual music education, especially during the oralistic period of education (officially until 1970). Many scholars and activists compare the era of oralism to colonialism: sign language and deaf people were oppressed in a society and school system that favored the hearing and speaking. Among the older generation of deaf people there are a few memories related to music education, as it depended entirely on the teachers’ own attitudes and skills. During the oralistic period, music education was strongly associated with the training of hearing and speech. Teachers used music to teach deaf and hard of hearing students to hear and speak, rather than to learn or enjoy music. However, the hegemony of the hearing in music and music education has been challenged in recent years.
In this presentation we ask following questions: what is deaf music like? How do deaf people perceive music? Based on preliminary results show that most of them sense with their body, but if they use hearing aids one can sense through hearing, depending on the high or low sound. In addition to that, deaf people experience vibrations and sound waves with their bodies. The presentation takes the form of a dialogue between a deaf and hearing researcher
Outi Ahonen is a PhD researcher, and Senior Lecture at Humak University of Applied Science.
Katja Sutela is a post doc researcher, and a University Lecturer in music education at University of Oulu. They both are working on a research project funded by the Kone Foundation called Voices of a Silent People – Repaired Bodies.
Katherine Mary Griffiths, Royal Holloway University of London
Recovering the 1980s and 1990s London lesbian club scene through archival activism
During the 1980s and 1990s, Black and white lesbians disrupted the heteronormative map of London’s nightclubs by creating their own spaces to dance, DJ and get lost in the music and each other. While the material power of white gay men afforded them access to leisure spaces, London’s lesbians worked in a cultural contraflow to provide their own spaces of pleasure. This activism was anti-capitalist and inclusive, it came from a DIY (Do it Yourself) approach, grounded in post-punk methods and Black British sound system culture’s influences. Designing, printing and distributing their own flyers and publicity, lesbian promoters and DJs worked collaboratively to secure venues and club nights upsetting the city’s gendered spaces and practices (Massey). These were fragile and short-lived events that existed on the peripheries and edges of the straight and gay club scenes.
The music of the Black Atlantic played on this scene (funk, soul, jazz and reggae) offered imaginings of hope and redemption (Gilroy). The messages in the music chimed with many of London’s Black, white and diasporic lesbians, presenting a sonic and imagined escape from the oppressive and threatening environments that women faced every day, at home, in work, on the street, and as lesbians. The music played was repurposed and refashioned in these women-only spaces by the lesbian dancers and DJ’s, creating an alternative imaginary world and offering ‘wiggle room’ (Ahmed) for women to expand into and express themselves.
This paper offers ephemeral items (flyers, mixtapes, playlists) as a method to recover and retell the history of the cultural activism that lesbians were involved in. Connecting these archival fragments with queer oral history accounts from lesbians who were on this scene, the resulting stories disrupt (Summerskill et al) existing histories of nightclubbing, centring on the experiences of queer women to tell a vibrant musical history.
Katherine Mary Griffiths: A former and some-time DJ who played in London in the 1980s and 1990s on the lesbian and straight scenes. I am a PhD student at Royal Holloway University of London, my project is titled ‘Going Out, Coming Out, Playing Out’ a study of the undocumented music scene that Black and white lesbians created in London in the 1980s and 1990s.
I am using my own collection of flyers, records, and mixtapes, as archival artefacts to evoke memories and recollect events through oral history interviews. By sharing these objects and other formal documents with the narrators a collaborative account emerges.
Resistance and Community Organisation 7
Session 20, Thu 11 May, at 14:15, Topelia: C 120
Xulia Feixoo, University of Valladolid
A Illa é nosa! Ethnomusicology, activism and community engagement in Ons Island (NW Iberian Peninsula)
The ethnomusicological studies proposed from the more conventional Academy offer a neutral and objective analysis of the data collected in the field, thus turning ethnomusicologists into neutral, non-political observers of the cultural and social processes of their objects of study. However, problems as urgent as ethnic inequalities, class inequalities, the right to cultural representation and the protection of cultural diversity seem to be left out of the ethnomusicological research agenda. Building on Appadurai's concept of "research from below" (1996) and "performance studies" proposed by Diana Taylor (2003), I propose a type of activist ethnomusicological research that is both politically engaged and scholarly.
In this communication I will address the problems that arise from the application of activist research methodologies, such as (self)reflection on my political positions and how these affect my research projects, collaboration during the research process with members of the local community and, ultimately, the social responsibility of the Academy. To do this, I will start from the long-term ethnographic fieldwork carried out with the women of Ons Island (NW Iberian Peninsula) between 2018 and 2021, which led to the creation of an audiovisual archive in collaboration with the Galician Culture Council and the recovery by the local community of its vocal musical repertoire accompanied with tambourines as well as its most representative dances.
Xulia Feixoo (Vigo, 1987) has a degree in Ethnomusicology (Vigo, 2016), a degree in History of Art (Santiago de Compostela, 2010) and in Percussion (Vigo, 2010). Last academic year 2020/2021 she obtained a Master's degree in Hispanic Music at the University of Valladolid. She is currently a predoctoral researcher (FPI) at the same university, where she is doing her doctoral thesis under the supervision of Enrique Cámara and Susana Moreno.
Joanna Zienkiewicz, University of Groningen
Music against Populism: How to Redefine the ‘Will of the People’?
Expressing grievances, mobilizing, and promoting reflection on contemporary issues, music in social movements has a vibrant history. Today, ‘the rise of populism’, which pits ‘good people’ against ‘corrupt elites’, pervades the political climate; with Poland and Hungary exemplifying its rapid escalation. The nationalism and authoritarianism of many European parties are now often inseparable from their populism. Popular music is at times used by populists to normalize their ideas, but so far, its role in movements that resist populism has been under-researched. In my presentation, I analyze the different multimodal strategies of resisting (right-wing, authoritarian) populism as expressed in protest music based on examples from Poland.
In 2015, a populist-nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS) won the elections in Poland. Since then, widespread opposition to the party’s increasingly authoritarian and nationalist policies continues to manifest within movements that bring anti-populism to the streets; often with song and dance. By now, over 80 songs have been written to challenge PiS’ continued rule, diverse anti-PiS playlists have been shared on Spotify, and music became the central practice of protests with the emergence of so-called ‘techno-blocades’ and with lyric-inspired protest banners.
As I will show, the dichotomies that authoritarian populism relies on per definition are challenged within much of such protest music which presents new ways of defining ‘the will of the people’. Through lyrics, sound, and visuals, the protesters subvert populist-nationalist narratives, combine transgressive fun with serious political commentary, while also often reaching the cultural mainstream. By showing how social divides can be complicated, protest music has the potential to deconstruct right-wing populists’ self-proclaimed monopoly on the ‘will of the people’ and undermine their myth that society can be cleanly divided into fundamentally opposed groups of ‘the [conservative] people’ and the liberal ‘(pseudo)elites’.
Joanna Zienkiewicz is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen. Interested in researching popular music and politics, she has been a speaker of international conferences and an author of (two) peer-reviewed journal articles. She is additionally affiliated with the Polish Facta Ficta Research Centre and she is the current secretary of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) in the Benelux region. Joanna is currently working on her NWO-funded doctoral thesis, “Transcending the Divide: Contesting Authoritarian Populism in Protest Music” (2022-2026). This interdisciplinary project focuses on understanding anti-populism through studying protest music directed against authoritarian populists.
Jackson Albert Mann, University of Maryland
Jawsmith Quartets: Communist Folklorism, IWW Music, and U.S. Left-wing Performance Practice
For almost a century, the United States’ Left-wing and Labor Movement’s conception of revolutionary U.S. working class music has been dominated by a specific musical canon and performance practice derived from the Communist Party USA’s (CPUSA) Popular Front-era folk-revival (1939-1949). Indeed, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, for many the leading figure of the contemporary U.S. Left, recently held a talk on U.S. working class music, during which his recorded examples were overwhelmingly drawn from this period. In fact, two of the seven recordings were taken from the same 1941 album, CPUSA-affiliated musical group the Almanac Singers’ “Talking Union.” However, this has led to a situation in which the musical cultures of the U.S. diverse working classes have been coded as trans-historically Appalachian, as it was on the musical styles of this region that CPUSA folk-revivalists developed their notions of ‘folk-music.’
For example, the music of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), arguably the U.S. socialist organization best-known for its musical output (1909-1917), is almost always recorded in an Appalchian-derived style, despite there being little evidence that its famous songs were performed this way. In fact, primary sources relevant to the early IWW’s music indicate a heterogeneous performance practice reflective of its international, multi-ethnic membership. The earliest extant recording of an IWW song, Finnish-American singer Hannes Saari’s 1928 Finnish-langauge recording of Joe Hill’s 1915 IWW anthem “Workers of the World, Awaken” (“Proletaaarit Nouskaa”), arranged as a march and performed by a small orchestra, lends further credence to the thesis that IWW music was performed in a diversity of styles. Through a systematic analysis of the relevant evidence, this presentation will reveal the diversity of the IWW’s musical life in order to break the hold Popular Front folk-revivalism has on contemporary U.S. left-wing musical practice.
Jackson Albert Mann is a Ph.D student in ethnomusicology. Born in New York City and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Mann received his B.M. in professional music and M.M. in music performance from Berklee College of Music and holds an M.A. in music composition from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His research focuses on music and politics, specifically music in labor and left-wing movements around the world, as well as the political economy of musical and cultural production. He is currently an editor at Cosmonaut Magazine. His work has been published in Jacobin Magazine and the Hampton Institute.
Resistance and Community Organisation 8
Session 23, Fri 12 May, at 10:00, Language Center: sh 206
Aimée George, Utrecht Universiteit
Surveillance and Strategy from contemporary South African women in jazz
This article emerges from a postgraduate research project on the experiences of women in contemporary jazz, in Cape Town, a city in South Africa well known for its longstanding jazz culture and its ‘intrinsic relationship with politics. South Africa is a country steeped in histories of jazz closely tied to black-led anti-colonial, and later, anti-apartheid struggle, and questions of violent gender dynamics have always been raised within these histories.
The post-democratic state prioritized both racial and gender injustices, and contemporary jazz musicians are embedded within social discourses superficially interested in “change.” This paper will draw on qualitative material offered by South African women jazz artists to interrogate their multi-layered gendered experiences through an intersectional lens as marginal individuals and how these experiences tie into traditional African constructions of gender and sexuality, and subsequent limitations they place on women jazz performers. It will be a critical analysis of the presence, practice and impact of hegemonic notions of gender and sexuality within normative jazz culture in South Africa, and will illuminate some of their narratives on gendered surveillance over their bodies and careers, and explore these artists’ strategies to subvert this.
Aimée George is a South African contemporary jazz vocalist and emerging intersectional pro-feminist scholar. Prior to embarking on a master's degree in Musicology at Utrecht Universiteit, Aimee performed in and around the Cape whilst working as both an arts administrator and research assistant at the University of Cape Town where she was awarded her first master’s degree in Jazz Vocal Performance in 2021. In her previous research endeavors, Aimee interrogates the intersections and complexities of gender, power and sexuality dynamics for jazz women performers in Cape Town. Her intellectual interests are rooted in the constructions and representation of gender identity, gender performativity and displays of masculinity/femininity within jazz arenas, the politics and multiplicity of blackness within jazz scholarship as well as African feminist and queer epistemology.
From the Archives: British Punk, Fanzines and Rock Against Prejudice!
When punk exploded onto the music scene in the 1970s, the wider socio-political environment in Britain was one of resurgent fascism, racial tensions and misogyny. In 1976 the National Front gained political ground winning 18.5% of the vote in Leicester and 10% in Bradford, and the national press engaged in relentless attacks on immigrants. In 1979, an anti-abortion bill was introduced by Conservative MP John Corrie, posing a threat to women's rights. This paper examines, primarily through an engagement with the punk fanzine collection and other archival material at Bishopsgate Institute (London, UK) the strong anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-sexist thread running through 1970s British punk-rock. It examines the role both music and fanzines played in the creation and ongoing development of social movements Rock Against Racism (RAR) and Rock Against Sexism (RAS), and the ways in which RAR and RAS organised and campaigned alongside other movements to combat the threat of racism and misogyny in both the punk scene itself and wider British society.
Grace Healy has a PhD from the University of Huddersfield, UK. Her research explores 1970s British punk-rock through the lens of Existentialism, using works by Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir and little known philosopher and proto-Existentialist (Gabrielle) Suchon, to examine the philosophical underpinnings of punk.
Melissa Arkley, University of Huddersfield
“It’s metal as fuck to address these topics”: How women and non-binary extreme metal vocalists are using the conventions of extreme metal to do feminist activism
Drawing upon ongoing PhD research into the digital feminist activism of women and non-binary extreme metal vocalists, this paper will address how extreme metal vocalists are utilizing the conventions of extreme metal to incorporate feminism and feminist activism into their artwork. This includes the ways in which vocalists use their lyrics, music videos, stage aesthetics and album imagery to engage with their feminism and do feminist activism. This paper will dedicate attention to the reasons why vocalists are choosing to do feminist activism through their music with consideration of the importance vocalists attribute to their feminism and their ability to bring their feminist activism into the genre. This is significant given the historically anti-feminist and misogynistic environment extreme metal has fostered. Nevertheless, the rise of feminism in the genre in recent years has allowed extreme metal to become a space where vocalists are able to shout back against oppressive narratives and experiences in the genre. The motivations for choosing specific feminist topics, both specific to extreme metal and wider society, will be highlighted, including why they have spoken about these topics within extreme metal. Lastly, the paper will examine what the conventions of extreme metal music can do for feminists by addressing the ways in which extreme metal allows feminists to do feminist activism in new and exciting ways.
Melissa Arkley is a third year PhD student in Communications, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Huddersfield, UK. Her current PhD research focuses on the digital feminist activism of women and non-binary extreme metal vocalists. She has interviewed vocalists globally about their digital feminist activism and what it means to be able to be a feminist in extreme metal.
Resistance and Community Organisation 9
Session 25, Fri 12 May, at 14:00, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
David R. M. Irving, ICREA & IMF, CSIC
Violins, Communism, and Decolonisation: Activism and Praxis in the Work of Australian Luthier John Godschall Johnson (1912-2003)
John Godschall Johnson (1912-2003) was an Australian luthier, artist, and committed communist who became famous for his refusal to sell instruments, preferring to give them away to talented young players. He inscribed his violins, violas, and cellos with the letters ‘TIMBFG NBOS’, meaning ‘this instrument may be freely given, never bought or sold’, a label that stripped his creations permanently of monetary value at their very inception. Besides his rejection of the market economy he also eschewed all electric tools, preferring to embrace and rediscover, through research and experimentation, the most traditional aspects of the luthier’s craft. He tracked down old materials for his instruments and in the 1980s made the first ensemble of ‘baroque’ instruments on the continent. From that decade he also gave thousands of hours of demonstrations in public exhibitions and museums around Australia, and volunteered at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Public accolades of Johnson late in his life, as well as articles published in his memory, acknowledged that his generosity was connected to his political convictions. In 1932 he joined the Communist Party, in which he later met his wife Phyllis Johnson, née Mather (1917-2009). They were active in demonstrations for the decolonisation of Indonesia in the mid-1940s, and lifelong supporters of union movements. Johnson spent time in the Torres Strait and advocated for the rights of the islands’ Indigenous populations; in Sydney he contributed to the raising of awareness of Aboriginal people’s struggles. In the 1990s he constructed a string quartet in honour of Jessie Street (1889-1970), a prominent campaigner for women’s rights and Indigenous rights, and Australia’s first woman delegate to the United Nations. When publicly exhibiting these instruments-in-progress, he displayed information about Street’s life and work. This paper examines Johnson’s activism and praxis, exploring how his luthiery and his politics were intertwined.
David R. M. Irving is an ICREA Research Professor affiliated to the Institució Milà i Fontanals de Recerca en Humanitats, CSIC, Barcelona; Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; and Senior Honorary Fellow at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the role of music in early modern intercultural contact, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. He is the author of Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (Oxford University Press, 2010), co-editor of the journal Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge University Press), and co-general editor of A Cultural History of Western Music (Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming).
Tessa Balser-Schuhmann and Nicole Kiruka, University of Vienna
Claim the Space! Music, Performance, and Corporeality in the Feminist Movements in Vienna
The surge in the cases of gender-based violence and femicide in Latin America in recent years has sparked a social outburst in the region. Feminist groups are addressing this social problem calling for protests and leading actions of visibility and denunciation through growing efforts coming from collectives and organizations, as well as from scholarly and artistic spaces. In their struggle against patriarchal violence, the ideas and practices articulated through music and artistic performances have gained increasing visibility expanding to other feminist groups outside the region who adopt and transfer these ideas and practices to their own context.
The basis for this paper is the analysis of the practices and processes that music and the artistic performance afford and promote within these feminist movements. We focus on the autonomous feminist movement in Vienna around the alliance "Claim the Space" and take as an example the performance of Las Tesis "Un violador en tu camino" and Vivir Quintana's song "Canción sin miedo". Both have achieved great popularity in Vienna with versions in different languages and adaptations into the context of a variety of political and social struggles.
For the analysis, we depart from understanding music and sounds as iterable musical marks with the ability to adapt to different social and political contexts. This musical mark has a close link with corporeality and the body in the performance, which entails an impact on the way in which the activist message is articulated, transmitted, and reproduced. Our purpose is to examine the interaction and dynamics between music, corporeality, and discourse in the transmission of the activist message, to determine the extent to which participation in the artistic performance in the context of feminist protests can help strengthen the sense of community and thus empower new participants and new forms of activism.
Tessa Balser-Schuhmann (she/her) is a musicologist working on her master's thesis on voice and the category of social class. She is a collaborator in the research project "Women Musicians from Syria: Performance, Networks, Belonging/s" at MDW Vienna and also researches on TikTok, activism and music.
Nicole Kiruka (she/they) is a musicologist and professional musician. Her research focuses on queer theory and body and voice politics in the musical performance. She co-produces a podcast that addresses issues related to the experience of migrant musicians from the global south.
Monika Żyła, University of Salzburg
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in contemporary music and sound art festivals: Contemporary music and sound art festivals as sites for resilience, empowerment, care, and societal change
In recent years, we have seen a significant paradigmatic shift in contemporary music and sound practices and aesthetics. The role and scope of contemporary music and sound art are increasingly considered against the backdrop of modernist tradition and dogmas such as aesthetic purity, the ideal of l'art pour l’art, and detachment from societal or earthly matters. Thanks to the Frankfurt School of thought in general, and Adorno and his Philosophy of New Music in particular, contemporary music composers and organizers for too long remained wary of possible criticism the social and political engagement of contemporary music might spark. In recent years, this seems to be less and less the case as contemporary music and sound art festivals are proving to be actively engaging in positive social change, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, questioning their power structures, and engaging in expanding their communities, audiences, networks, collaborators, and partners. This mobilization of communities takes place at festivals through a wide variety of activities, formats, and initiatives. One of them is the Sounds Now network, an initiative of 9 European music festivals and art centers that address music and sound curating as a creative strategy that enables the reshuffling of the hierarchical power structures while allowing new and underrepresented voices to enter the professional field. In this paper, I would like to consider the agency, empowerment, community-building capacities, and resistance of contemporary music and sound art as intrinsic and address it as an aesthetic category integral to the compositional and sound art practice. If contemporary music and sound art are to remain sustainable, relevant, and necessary in our current turbulent times of political, societal, and environmental upheaval, we need to radically reconsider their social and political potential for community building, transnational solidarities, justice, and care.
Monika Żyła is a musicologist, cultural theorist, author, artistic director, and pianist. She is working on her Ph.D. dissertation “Contemporary Music and Its Others: Female Composers, Gender Politics and Constructions of National Identity at the Warsaw Autumn Festival” (working title) in the Department of Musicology and Dance Studies at the University of Salzburg. She gives workshops and lectures on gender, diversity and inclusion in contemporary music and sound art both in the academic and festival context. She is currently affiliated with the University of Salzburg, the University of Vienna and Berlin University of the Arts. She has published research and critical articles in Glissando, Ruch Muzyczny, Dwutygodnik, Odra, Krytyka Polityczna, Circuit-Musiques Contemporaines, and Contemporary Music Review. Her peer-reviewed article “The Need for Otherness: Hispanic Music at ‘Warsaw Autumn’” was published Contemporary Music Review, Volume 38 Issue 1-2. Earlier, her peer-reviewed article “Cornelius Cardew behind the Iron Curtain” appeared in the Canadian musicological journal Circuit — Musiques Contemporaines (Volume 28, Issue 3) published by the University of Montreal. She is an author and producer of the series of podcasts about contemporary music called “Radio w Kuchni”. In 2018/2019 she directed and produced a series of 24-hour participatory staged performances VEXATIONS: REVISITED based on Eric Sate’s Vexations from 1893.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 1
Session 2, Wed 10 May, at 11:30, Language Center: sh 206
Emmi Kujanpää, University of Helsinki
Transnational Collaboration and Activism in Contemporary Eastern European Folk Singing
In my presentation I explore transnational Eastern European – and particularly Bulgarian – folk singing. The presentation covers the ways the war in Ukraine and the current European neo-nationalism affect folk singers’ experiences as performers and the transnational collaboration between the folk singing groups. In my presentation I also describe the experiences of embodiment, affects and gender in powerful and ornamented Eastern European folk singing, and how these elements are at the moment in constant change. I will also explore how the cultural memories are interwoven into artistic work at the transnational collaboration, and share my experiences about the possibilities for activism in the field of Eastern European folk singing at the current political situation.
The material of my presentation is based on my artistic work as a musician in Finland and Bulgaria between 2017–2022. The presentation includes examples from my solo album (2020, Nordic Notes / Sibelius Academy), and the music video trilogy (2019, 2020, 2022). Both the solo album and one of the music videos (2022) were made in Finland and Bulgaria in co-operation with Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares Vocal Academy female choir.
Emmi Kujanpää is a folk singer, kantele player, composer, teacher and PhD researcher specializing in Finno-Karelian and Balkan folk music. Kujanpää has been working extensively and internationally on Finno-Karelian and Balkan singing for more than ten years. In her compositions and music videos Kujanpää deals with the different aspects of femininity and transgenerationality. During her master’s degrees Emmi Kujanpää studied at Sibelius Academy, University of Helsinki and at the Plovdiv Academy of Music in Bulgaria (Erasmus studies). In her current PhD research at University of Helsinki (musicology) she explores embodiment, affects and gender in Eastern European folk singing.
Thorsten Philipp, TU Berlin
Soundscapes of Ecofeminism: Renegotiating gender and environment through pop music
Femininity and metaphors of motherhood have always determined the perception of nature and environment. With the rise of the ecological movements, they have also accompanied the rise of environmental awareness and eco-activism. The use of feminine characteristics associates nature with care, nourishment, and life-giving roles such as conception and birth (Hrdy 2000). Therefore, nature is shaped by gender conflicts and sexist conventions: The perception of nature as a benevolent, permissive, but violated woman is open to affective approaches. At the same time, it promotes the idea that nature, if treated appropriately, can serve as a commodity.
In response to this problem, Ecofeminism emerges as an academic, intellectual, and social current within the environmental movements. Its manifestations range from the anti-nuclear-movement (e.g. Mütter gegen Atomkraft in Germany) to the testimonials of ecological “heroines” (Radkau 2011) such as Wangaari Maathai, Vandana Shiva, and Medha Paktar. Their binding link is to explore intersections of environmentalism and feminism and to draw on a feminist position to reconcile humanity’s relationship with nature.
To what extent is ecofeminism a topic of pop music? And in which way does ecofeminist pop music contribute to political activism through music? Is there any potential for political education? Whereas the Welsh singer MARINA, in cooperation with the Russian band Pussy Riot, delivers a sharp critique of the patriarchal system and its environment consequences (Man’s World, 2020; Purge The Poison, 2021), Icelandic artist Björk offers a Gaia-inspired invitation to reconciliation (Náttúra, 2011) and singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman reflects environment-related guilt and violation (The Rape of the Earth, 1995). Across genres, songs popularize ecofeminist tropes, shorten them to stereotypes, and complement them with aesthetic stimulus. The analysis of textual and sound regimes not only offers a hybrid mirror of political communication on ecofeminism through politainment (Riegert/Collins 2016); it also permits to discover latent structures of social systems (Luhmann 2005) by unveiling societal dynamics which are mostly ignored in the public discourse.
Hrdy, S.B. Mother nature. Natural selection and the female of the species. London 1999.
Luhmann, Niklas. Social Systems. Stanford 2005.
Radkau, J. The Age of Ecology. Hoboken 2014.
Riegert, K./Collins S. Politainment. In: G Mazzoleni (ed.), The international encyclopedia of political communication. Chichester 2016, 974-984.
Thorsten Philipp is political scientist and Romance scholar. As member of the president’s staff at TU Berlin, his mission is to promote transdisciplinary learning at the interface between university and society. Thorsten is lecturer for sustainability theories and political communication at the universities Leuphana Lüneburg, Freiburg and Passau. In his research, he explores pop music as a resonance chamber of environmental conflicts.
Beatriz Vieira Nunes, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Victims No More: how women and non-binary musicians are collaborating for gender justice in jazz
Following the #MeToo movement in 2017, the discussion of female vulnerability in male-dominated environments was accelerated, and it influenced the activism for non-patriarchal representation in jazz. Grounded in the recently published chapter Victims No More: How Women and Non-binary Musicians are Collaborating for Gender Justice in Jazz (Nunes & Arnaut, 2022), this presentation will discuss applied strategies from women and non-binary activists in jazz, that in the last decade have been collaborating in structured organizations in order to overcome imbalanced power dynamics, such as sexual harassment and abuse. Even though scholars agree that jazz persists as a heteronormative male environment, questions remain on how to achieve gender equality. The actions taken by women and non-binary jazz feminists and activists address these lingering questions.
This presentation frames the struggles and contributions of women and non-binary activists advocating for gender minorities in jazz, regarding a historical overview of the intersection of women’s rights and jazz since the 1970s, and documenting the contributions of contemporary organziations such as ‘Jazzwomen and Girls Advocates’, ‘We Have Voice’ and ‘Women in Jazz Organization’. Data collection includes a literature review and interviews with activists and musicians Ellen Seeling, Roxy Coss and Sara Serpa.
By investigating these organizations’ policies, achievements and different perspectives about the concepts of gender and intersectionality, we discuss their main strategies such as networking, creating mentorship programs and non-normative educational sites, targeting festivals’ hiring policies and pledging for parity in music industry.
Beatriz Nunes is a Phd student in Ethnomusicology at Universidade Nova de Lisboa with the research project “Jazz, gender and performance in a conservatory cultural system”. Beatriz is also a singer and composer from Lisbon, lead singer of Madredeus since 2011, she released her solo album “Canto Primeiro”, selected on the Europe Jazz Media Chart of September 2018. Master in Music Education (jazz) by Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa, with a study about gender, jazz and education.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 2
Session 6, Wed 10 May, at 14:00, Language Center: sh 206
Ignacio Soto-Silva, Universidad de Los Lagos
The trutruka playing in popular music: activism and resistance in the region of los Lagos, Chile
The trutruka is a natural trumpet that belongs to the Mapuche people, the largest indigenous group in Chile. The literature is consistent in placing this instrument in warlike contexts dated back to the 17th century, and its use in the present-day Mapuche musical practices is very significant. This paper aims to inform the first findings from a larger ethnographic research that examines some popular musics performed in the Region of Los Lagos, Chile, which incorporate music elements linked to the Mapuche culture. The main aim of that research relates to the study of musical representations that may reveal links between the music performed by some musicians and his territorial activism. In this paper, I present the background information that shows the construction of a Mapuche musical movement, as well as the analysis developed that exposes the emergence of some music elements that could be understood as topic representations. As a result of that, I found the presence of a musical topic that I regard as “Mapuche in resistance”, which is based on the object of “the trutruka playing in warlike context” and expressed through musical items performed by a trutruka, or that incorporate mimetic allusions about this instrument. Finally, I discuss the possible uses of this analysis and its influence for decentralizing the ethnomusicology practices in the Chilean context, as well as the capability of diverse approaches to determine musical topics.
Ignacio Soto-Silva holds a Ph.D in musicology from University of Valladolid. His research
interests are the relationship between music, place and identity, intercultural music
education and popular music in southern Chile. Currently he is an Associate Professor in
the Departament of Arts and Humanities at University of Los Lagos in Chile.
Reetta Näätänen, Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
Cultural sensitivity and the interpretation of cross-cultural contemporary Western music
Music has been a melting pot of different cultures throughout the ages. When the transculturation happens between cultures with equal power relations – cultures that don’t dominate over the other – there is hardly any issue involved with it. But when the musical inspiration is drawn from oppressed cultures, there is a risk of cultural appropriation. However, even strong, live cultures can be misrepresented and stereotyped through music. Much has changed since Rameau’s and Puccini’s orientalist ballets and operas, when exoticizing foreign cultures in Western art music was fashionable. Recently Western opera houses have started to consider more carefully how to stage opera characters that engage with racist stereotypes.
These notions are more easily detected in stage music or theatre, but how to apply cultural sensitivity to instrumental music? What is the performer’s responsibility when representing cultures that are foreign to the performer and/or the composer? How much background knowledge should the performer obtain to assess the cultural validation of the music?
My artistic research is addressing these questions from the performer’s point of view. In this paper I discuss my case study piece, Juha T. Koskinen’s “Dream Transmission” (2019) for solo clarinet and electronics through a concise analysis of the music and performance notes of its 5 movements. The composition mixes Japanese culture, Buddhist ritualistic gestures and classical Italian literature into a piece of music that from the performer’s perspective has some problematic information. Is it necessary for the performer to be “culturally correct” when the composer’s idea is to create a fantasy world through music? Is orientalism still an issue in contemporary music? We cannot count on not having to care about cultural faux pas in the age of digitalization.
Reetta Näätänen has been working as a clarinetist in Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra for over 20 years. She is also an active member of TampereRaw contemporary music ensemble. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies (University of Helsinki) apart from her Master of Music degree (Sibelius Academy). She is currently working on her doctoral degree in DocMus school in the University of the Arts, Sibelius Academy.
Kirsten Hedegaard, Loyola University
Eco-Choral Music: Mobilizing the Choral Art for Environmental Activism
“The social impact of music happens not only through a common understanding of the discourse around it but also through the experience of simultaneity. The mutual synchronizing of sonic and bodily experiences creates a bond that is pre-communicative and perhaps deeper than shared conscious meaning. This can happen through the interaction of composers and performers, performers and performers, performers and listeners, and listeners and listeners. The more involved a person is in doing music, whether in composing, performing, or listening, the tighter the bond is.” (William Roy, Reds, Whites, and Blues)
This quote from sociologist William Roy speaks directly to the praxis of choral singing, a social activity that is practiced around the globe. In the Western choral tradition, there has recently been a growing trend to address important social concerns through new compositions and innovative programming. Composers have taken on such topics as racism, LGBTQ and women’s rights, gun violence, as well as other pressing social issues. One of the subgenres of this socially conscious repertoire is music that focuses on environmentalism and the growing anxiety regarding climate change.
This presentation will address recent activity in the eco-choral genre, including new compositions, grassroots organizations in the U.S., and current sociological, psychological, and musical research related to the topic. Musical examples from recent live performances will be shared, including works by American composers John Luther Adams, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Stacy Garrop, Jake Runestad, and Robert Kyr. A case will be made for choral music’s utility in mobilizing an effective environmentalist movement within the field, as well as strategies for achieving a synergistic course of action. With hundreds of thousands singers participating in choral music around the world, a coordinated campaign to address climate change through singing is not only possible, but necessary.
Kirsten Hedegaard has enjoyed a varied career as singer, conductor, and scholar. She has appeared as soloist and ensemble member with groups across the U.S., including Philharmonia Baroque, Mercury Baroque, Ensemble viii, Baroque Band, Schola Antiqua, Newberry Consort, Ars Antiqua, Rook Ensemble, Bella Voce, and eighth blackbird. Currently Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Loyola University, Chicago, Hedegaard has conducted choirs and orchestras for various academic and professional institutions. As a co-founder of the EcoVoice Project, Hedegaard is dedicated to bringing together musicians and artists to explore how the arts can support environmental education and action.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 3
Session 10, Wed 10 May, at 15:45, Language Center: sh 206
Uri Agnon, The University of Southampton
An Activist Shift: New Music and Political Action
Skepticism towards politically engaged music is rife in ‘new music’ circles. Its critics claim both that it does nothing to advance the causes it is tied to (‘preaches to the choir’), and that it is unnuanced, and uninteresting as art (‘on the nose’). While practitioners will disagree with these arguments, they are nonetheless worthwhile provocations to contend with in creating effective, meaningful, work. In this paper I will argue that a path towards this end could be found in shifting the focus from political to activist works. Using a practice-as-research approach the paper will discuss two recent compositions. Custodian an Oratorio for a Choir that Acts (2018) is a civil disobedience piece which was staged on the footsteps of the Jewish National Fund headquarters to resist their attempts at displacing a Palestinian family, the Sumreens, from their home in Silwan, East Jerusalem. In Or Never (2022) performers’ participation is tied up with their political choices: they do or do not play sections of the piece depending on their answers to questions such as “is it moral to eat an avocado?”, “have you had a meaningful conversation about climate this week?”, “have you ever participated in a climate protest?” and “do you know how to dismantle a pipeline?”. The paper will explore the artistic possibilities afforded by focusing on activism, and take stock of the impacts these pieces have had on audiences, performers, and the struggles they are tied to.
Uri Agnon is a Jerusalemite composer, activist, and researcher currently based in London. A PhD candidate at the University of Southampton, he explores possible relationships between activist strategies and compositional practices. Uri’s political pieces have been commissioned and performed by groups and venues such as Riot Ensemble, Zöllner-Roche Duo, Yshani Perinpanayagam, Kathrine Tinker, Southampton University Student Orchestra, Tel Aviv Museum of Art and more. He is a founding member of several anti-occupation groups, as well as being an environmental activist. His article “On Political Audiences: an argument in favour of preaching to the choir” was recently published in Tempo.
Javier Silva-Zurita, Universidad de Los Lagos
Language revitalization and integration of traditional music: The case of Leftraru Hualamán, a Mapuche Williche musician and activist from southern Chile
Leftraru Hualamán is the stage name of a Mapuche Williche musician from Osorno, Chile, who has developed a musical genre he has defined as Williche singing, which incorporates musical and discursive aspects related to traditional Mapuche music and stylistic elements from the New Chilean Song repertoire. This article discusses Leftraru’s perceptions about his own music and how it relates with his political activism. By analysing some Leftraru’s interviews and documents that engaged in aesthetic and ideological perceptions about his music, we organized two categories wherein his ideas can be grouped: one that focuses on language revitalization, and another that incorporates aspects related to traditional Mapuche music into his creative practices. The conclusions indicate that these categories are key in understanding the notions of territory articulated by this musician, which allows the emergence of reinterpretations about some traditional notions, in this case Mapuche singing.
Javier Silva-Zurita is an academic at the Department of Humanities and Arts, in the Universidad de Los Lagos, Chile. He has been awarded with several scholarships to study Pedagogy in Music Education at Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación (Chile), a Master in Music Studies at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne, and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at the Sir Zelman Cowen School Music, Monash University. His research interests focus on Mapuche music culture in the disciplines of ethnomusicology and music education. Javier Silva-Zurita is a founding member of ICTM-Chile National Committee.
Finnish Fascism and its Affective Musical Heritage
My proposed talk has two aims. First, as the director of Fascinating Fascism and its Affective Heritage in the Finnish Culture (a research project funded by the Kone Foundation, 2021–2023), that combines research and artistic activity, I wish to briefly introduce this seven-member project, and its main ideas. Notably, we have several researchers working on music and sound, and we are also working on a series of performances He sanoivat: “Rajat kiinni ja uunit auki” (They said: “Close the borders and open the ovens”. Second, I will highlight examples of my own research on the ariosofic use of The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, by Finnish Neo-Nazis, and on Finnish neofolk music with fascist undertones.
Neofolk, also sometimes known as apocalyptic folk, is a form of experimental music, with roots in folk and industrial genres. It can be either solely acoustic music or combine acoustic and electric sounds. A great lyrical emphasis has been placed on old, mostly European mythologies, esoteric rituals, and references nocturnal/gothic culture and nature. Many bands across the genre have either been outright fascist with their themes or at least ambivalent in relation to fascist aesthetics. It could be argued that this kind of beautiful, dramatic music could be used as a form of propaganda. The nostalgic longing for mythical past is obviously something that resonates with populist themes. There are, however, also antifascist neofolk artists, and I will talk about my own artistic work in this context – my singer-songwriter albums The Bone of My Bones (Svart Records 2013), and Eye for an Eye (Svart Records 2017) have been labelled as neofolk by many journalists.
Dr Kimi Kärki is a Lecturer at Cultural Study of Music, Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki (Seinäjoki unit), and holds a title of Docent in Cultural Heritage Studies (University of Turku) and Area and Cultural Studies (University of Helsinki). He has mainly published on the history stadium rock spectacles, talking machines, future imagining, and fascist aesthetics in popular culture. He is the director of the project Fascinating Fascism and its Affective Heritage in the Finnish Culture (Kone Foundation, 2021–2023). He is also an internationally touring musician, with more than 40 releases in heavy metal, progressive rock, ambient, and as a singer-songwriter.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 4
Session 13, Thu 11 May, at 10:00, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
Carlos Pérez Tabares, University of Michigan
“I Am the Song I Sing”: Identity, Resistance, and Embodiment in the Music of Bola de Nieve
Popularly known as “Bola de Nieve” (“Snowball”), pianist, singer, and composer Ignacio Villa (1911–1971) is recognized as one of the most significant cultural icons of Cuba. Ironically, Villa sat at the intersection of almost every minority group on the island. Indeed, he was Black, gay, and a practitioner of santería— “a Yorùbá-diasporic religion... incorporating certain Catholic elements” (Conner 2004). While most of the English-language scholarship on Villa has overemphasized his sympathy for the Cuban Revolution (Jacobs 1988; Jacobs 1991), almost nothing has been said as to how this artist became a symbol of Cuban-ness both before and during the Castro administration, which was known for its persecution of homosexuals and santeros. In this essay, I explore this issue and engage with his music as an avenue for the politicized expression of his identity. I argue that, although the revolutionary government may have seen Villa’s race and cultural background as the perfect attributes for a Cuban “[musical] ambassador” (Barnet 2021), it was Villa’s status as an internationally renowned artist and his involvement with the cultural movement known as Afrocubanismo that shielded him from the anti-homosexual and anti-santero persecution of the 1960s (Ocasio 2002; Moore 1997). I contend that, while Villa developed a revolutionary public persona, he also engaged in a form of non-overt resistance by positioning himself within the shifting Cuban cultural field and by using his music and the open secret of his homosexuality as main vehicles. I close the essay with discussion of two songs recorded by Villa: his arrangement of Moisés Simons’ “Chivo Que Rompe Tambó” and his own “Pero Tú Nunca Comprenderás.” I tease out musical cues in these pieces and contextualize them in terms of Villa’s identity, particularly as they serve to reappropriate Afrocubanista compositions and convey potential political meanings through embodied cognition (Cox 2016).
Carlos Pérez Tabares is a Ph.D. candidate in music theory at the University of Michigan. Originally from Venezuela, he holds a BM in Music Composition and an MM in Music Theory from the Mannes School of Music. His research interests include primo ottocento opera studies, rhythm and meter, music cognition, and jazz.
Gustavo Souza Marques, University College Cork
Racial Play in a Music Video Trilogy: Analysing Tyler, The Creator’s “Yonkers”, “Buffalo” and “Find Your Wings”
Tyler, The Creator (Tyler Gregory Okonma) is an Grammy awarded African American rapper, music producer and entrepreneur who have been vigorously challenging representations of black masculinity in American rap music; mainly on its stereotypes related to gangsta rap and hypermasculinity. In his three videos “Yonkers” (2011), “Buffalo” (2015) and “Find Your Wings” (2015), Tyler seems to propose a trilogy of his evolution and maturation as a black artist who does not fit in long-term stereotypes related to black masculinity in American rap music. In all of them, feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness are evidenced through a significantly racial play between whiteness and blackness in order to expose Tyler’s outsider condition in the hip-hop context. Understanding such intriguing artist and his emblematic music videos is crucial in a political moment in which the racial debate is prominent and necessary. In this paper, I will briefly analyze Tyler’s audio-visual trilogy in order to discuss important contemporary matters such as race, gender and popular culture.
Gustavo Souza Marques is a music scholar and producer also known under the stage names Gusmão and Gusashi. Dr. Marques concluded his doctorate on the musical work of Tyler, The Creator at University College Cork (Ireland) in 2021. Marques’s main interests are critical race theory, postcolonialism, media studies, music and performance. Currently, Dr. Marques is a postdoctoral researcher for the CIPHER Hip Hop Interpellation project.
Christine Dysers, Uppsala University
Haters, Twelve Points: Tacit Social Activism in Iceland’s 2019 Eurovision Entry
The audio-visual world of the Icelandic performance art group Hatari (Eng: ‘Haters’) is built on paradoxes. On the surface level, Hatari present themselves as a gothic-industrial techno-pop trio. Their sonic world combines danceable electronic beats with the brute authoritarian masculinity of Nordic black metal and the ethereal falsettos of Icelandic post-rock artists such as Björk and Sigur Rós. Visually, the band draws on both totalitarian imagery and BDSM culture.
However, at the crux of Hatari lies a thoroughly mediatised and deeply political art performance. Using humour, satire, and absurdist détournement in each of their highly curated audio-visual performances, the group radically confronts the many tacit power imbalances of modern-day society. For instance, although the trio insistently introduce themselves as an ‘award-winning anti-capitalist band’ (already a contradictio in terminis), the group competed in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, which, with 200 million viewers, is inarguably the epitome of televised capitalism in the music entertainment industry. While proceeding through to the finals, Hatari deliberately used the alleged political neutrality of Eurovision as a platform for staging several radically pro-Palestine provocations, thus emphasising Iceland’s geopolitical position on the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In several of the audio-visual performances surrounding the contest, Hatari explicitly tackle issues of gender and sexual normativity, populism, and late-stage capitalism.
This paper assesses the many ways in which Hatari’s mediatised and carefully curated audio-visual performances radically disrupt and undermine the alleged political neutrality of the Eurovision Song Contest. The paper shows how the group use humour and satire to turn the rules, values, and traditions of the contest against itself, and by doing so, signal a clear message about Iceland’s geopolitical perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Dr Christine Dysers is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Musicology at Uppsala University. Her research is broadly concerned with music after 1989, with a particular focus on the aesthetics of repetition. Her research interests include music and the political, musical borrowing, and the notion of the uncanny. Methodologically, her work occupies the spaces between musicology and philosophy. Christine holds a PhD in Music from City, University of London. In 2021, she was appointed as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in the Department of Music at Columbia University.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 5
Session 21, Thu 11 May, at 16:00, Language Center: sh 206
James Chikomborero Paradza, University of Pretoria
Beyoncé’s Lemonade in South Africa: Exploring perceptions of the visual album as a medium for intersectionality
Intersectionality has become a burgeoning topic within popular culture, and celebrities are increasingly using their platforms to promote intersectional awareness. The visual album Lemonade depicts the journey of twenty-first-century Black women navigating the triple jeopardy of race, class and gender in the United States of America. Beyoncé draws on a myriad of elements, including Black feminism, the #BlackLivesMatter movement and various music genres, to address intersectional issues, such as misogynoir, marital infidelity and structural classism. Lemonade is set within the context of the Black Southern traditions of the USA; however, it addresses intersectional issues that are experienced by people, particularly Black women, across the world. This presentation explores perceptions in South Africa of how intersectionality is portrayed and interpreted in the visual album. The data was collected through a combination of diary entries and semi-structured interviews from a diverse group of 20 participants (ages 20 to 54). After a thematic analysis of the data, it became apparent that many of the participants relate to the intersectional issues portrayed through Lemonade. Intersectionality was perceived through lyrics that narrate the experiences of Black women, mise-en-scène that portrays various historical and contemporary elements inspired by Black culture, poetry that reflects the emotions of Black women, and musical accompaniment that evokes Black musical styles. Not all of the participants appreciated Beyoncé’s methods, as some were perceived as commercial and unrelatable. However, the most predominant perception was that Beyoncé plays a pivotal role in the portrayal of intersectionality in the popular music genre and, subsequently, popular culture. The study’s findings reveal that Beyoncé’s methods of advocating for intersectional justice are understood in a South African context and can be applied in settings beyond the borders of the USA, further illustrating the role that popular music has in shaping narratives across the world.
James Paradza is a Doctor of Music (Musicology) candidate at the University of Pretoria (UP). He completed his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Performing Art degrees (both with distinction) at UP. His doctoral research focuses on intersectionality in Beyoncé’s music and how it is perceived by listeners in South Africa. James has been invited to present sections from his thesis at the 9th International Conference on Arts and Humanities and the 5th International Conference on Gender and Sexuality. He has also presented a guest lecture at Hamilton College, USA, on Afrofuturism in Beyoncé’s Black is King.
Alexandra von der Embse, The Juilliard School DMA Candidate
Gabriella Smith’s “Kisiabaton” as Agent of Climate Change Activism
Gabriella Smith’s Kisiabaton (2010) is a work that provides insight into the composer’s relationship with ecological activism and the effects of climate change. Though Smith did not envision this piece as a commentary on the climate crisis, the work offers a potential hermeneutic link to her own homesickness for California by the fact that it is named after a poem by Beat poet Gary Snyder and that she wrote it after leaving the West Coast. As the California of the early twenty-first century no longer exists due to wildfires and other environmental changes from the climate crisis, her personal homesickness now resonates more globally: nobody can ever return to that California. While interviews with Smith reveal how crucial the process of writing Kisiabaton was in her decision to pursue a career in musical composition instead of that of ecology, this did not diminish her passion for ecological activism nor her public dedication to staving off climate disaster.
Now twelve years after the work’s premiere, which I presented in December 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I turn again to the work to examine how Smith’s identity and the ongoing global climate crisis reframe the hermeneutics of Kisiabaton. I suggest that Smith’s ongoing personal search for how to best use her gifts to protect the nature she loves, as well as the global crisis of climate change, invite a consideration of the work, itself, as a catalyst for action. Drawing from theory and performance studies, I analyze Kisiabaton as an active plea for action, and ask whether we may enhance our understanding of ourselves and our own responsibilities to our environment through experiencing this musical work. Perhaps this may lead us toward a productive and meaningful conversation in how to translate those feelings into action to save our planet.
An ardent chamber musician, Alexandra von der Embse founded Ensemble39, a chamber group dedicated to collaborations and commissions, in 2010. Formerly Principal Oboe of the Breckenridge Music Festival and Associate Principal Oboe and English Horn of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in Virginia, she is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Juilliard School. She previously studied at the Curtis Institute and Oberlin Conservatory. Currently based in Copenhagen, Ms. von der Embse loves exploring her new home, learning the Danish language, cheering on OL Reign and the US Women’s National Soccer Team, and reading literature at the Sydhavn Bibliotek.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 6
Session 22, Fri 12 May, at 10:00, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
Claudia Lubao, University of St Andrews
Using Music for Cultural Heritage Sustainability: The Challenge of Producing both, Activist Songs and Popular Songs
I am a Tanzanian musician known as Chemical and an artistic researcher investigating how music is used and can continue to be used in communicating socio-cultural (cultural heritage) and sciences. My study is building on a previous project of Musicalizing Heritage, where I wrote music about raising awareness on the aspect of environmental archaeology and heritage.
The use of music in communicating environmental archaeology and heritage issues has resulted to great changes in managing archaeological and heritage sites in Tanzania. For instance, the song "Kilwa Yetu" which aims at protecting and preserving the Kilwa ruins world heritage site, brought widespread attention to the plight of the site that other methods of promotion could not have achieved by reaching audiences outside the reach of more traditional, academic avenues.
A further video commissioned for UNESCO based on country-wide African heritage research, "Africa's Heritage", was launched at their headquarters in Paris in May 2018. This video gave the local community a voice to discuss their heritage, which has led to significant policy changes at a national level. Likewise, the "Climate and Heritage" song aims to raise issues about climate change, how they affect archaeology and heritage aspects and suggest the way forward.
However, before beginning this journey of activisms, I became popular in Tanzania as a female rapper doing “Bongo Fleva”, a popular music genre in Tanzania. My musical works were mostly based on entertaining (showbiz). Therefore, my talk will highlight the challenge I face as the result of mixing regular songs and activist songs in three aspects: -
i) Production of the songs
ii) Releasing, Promotion and advertisement of the songs
iii) Performances and;
iv) Managing and maintaining fanbase
Claudia Lubao (Chemical) is a Tanzanian musician currently pursuing a practice-based PhD on musicalizing socio-cultural and scientific issues at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. As a musician (Chemical) she is a well-established female rapper and the winner of the best female Hip-Hop musician award at the Tanzania Music Awards (TMA2021). Claudia has more than 105k subscribers on YouTube (see ChemicalOfficial), 730k Instagram followers (as Chemical_tz), with many more followers on other social media channels and streaming services. Claudia Lubao has worked with all the eminent Tanzanian producers and uses her digital presence as part of her research process.
Elise Haller-Shannon, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Women’s Work: Composing a feminist interpretation of the Scottish waulking song tradition
This paper outlines the techniques and strategies employed within my compositional practice to combat issues surrounding the marginalisation of women within the context of the Western canon.
I demonstrate how I assimilate methods and practices located in contemporary feminist and music literature, deploying them in a musical setting with reference to the music criticism of authors such as Susan McClary and Sally Macarthur. I discuss how I have employed these techniques musically, describing the production of a piece of music, Waulking Songs (2021), for six pianos and electronics. This piece draws on the historical Scottish tradition of waulking songs, working songs sung by groups of women in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as they waulked (beat) tweed by hand at a table to shrink it.
This music was created, sung and transmitted orally by communities of women and draws on the inherent feminist politics and poetics of the tradition. The intention of Waulking Songs is to juxtapose labour relations and performativity by mirroring a musical performance of labour with a performance of musical labour.
By sampling archive recordings and recontextualising them in a classical concert hall setting, Waulking Songs harnesses the Scottish traditional woman’s voice within the male dominated hierarchy of classical music to examine how these two traditions respond to one another. This paper reflects on the process of collaborating with historic recordings and the politics of writing and eventually performing the piece. The result is an exploration of the ways in which this musical tradition clearly preserves and expresses the historical subjective experience of women.
My research is focussed on finding ways to use contemporary music as a creative tool to challenge current notions of identity and the representation and subjective experience of women.
Elise Haller-Shannon is a composer, musician and educator currently undertaking a PhD at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Her research is focused on using contemporary music as a tool to explore the scope for communicating female subjective experience.
Elise is interested in finding ways to use contemporary music as a creative tool to challenge current notions of identity and the representation and subjective experience of women. By drawing on women’s histories and traditions, contemporary feminist theory, contemporary music criticism and artists who have explored questions of subjectivity, identity and authorship in their practice, she is investigating the scope for communicating female subjective experience to audiences, players and the broader contemporary music community.
Anchal Khansili, University College Dublin
An Ecomusicological message from Congo to the World
What does a sustainable future look like in the field of music? To discuss the statement, this paper focuses on a band from Congo known as “Fulu Miziki” which recycles plastic found in garbage to create futuristic music. Music and sustainability have come together in the last few decades to provide an interdisciplinary approach that takes environment into consideration when discussing how music interacts with society and its effects on the ecosystem. Through the case study, this paper presents an ecomusicological approach to understanding how music can play a major role in raising awareness about environmental issues. For analysis, I adapt four different approaches: To understand the historical context (cultural approach), for the musical context (musicological approach), to expand on the idea of Afrofuturism (futuristic approach) and lastly to focus on music and sustainability (ecomusicological approach). The historical aspect is explained via the cultural hints present in the band’s expression of identity, especially during their live performances, to understand the musical aspect, there is a discussion on tracks, Lokito and Bivada from their latest album “Ngbaka”. The idea of Afrofuturism for fulu Miziki is explored through their music-making as well as their costumes. Afrofuturism as a distinct matter is discussed through the perspective of the movie Black Panther and what it stands for the African diaspora and the people living in Africa, the differences, as well as the similarities and lastly the Ecomusicological aspect, gives an insight into the process of creating sound from garbage for Fulu Miziki and expanding on the importance of an integrated approach for research. As separate as these approaches appear, this paper has tried to present a qualitative and blended methodology to assemble these branches in order to achieve the collective goal.
Through Fulu Miziki, this paper has tried to delve into the process of making a utopian future from a dystopic present with the help of art.
Anchal Khansili: I hold a postgraduate degree in Indian classical music from S.N.D.T. University, Mumbai and in musicology/ethnomusicology from University College Dublin. I come from a background in science as my major in undergrad was science and during my master’s I acquired an interest in the field of Ecomusicology because of the same background. My area of interest includes pollution caused by music in any form, their causes and exploring methodologies to make the field of music more sustainable for the future. I am also interested in exploring how different cultures communicate the urgency of issues like climate change through music and how effective can it be.
Politics in Musical Works and Practices 7
Session 26, Fri 12 May, at 14:00, Language Center: sh 206
Imke Misch, TU Braunschweig
Nuclear disasters in music: Aspects of artistic activism in works of Toshio Hosokawa, Mayako Kubo and Keiko Fujiie
The most severe nuclear disasters are associated with Japan: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster resulting from the Tōhoku earthquake in 2011. These events were followed by a series of musical compositions ranging from pop to classical music. The focus is on contemporary classical music by Japanese composers living either in Japan or in Europe: Toshio Hosokawa (b. 1955), one of today's best-known Japanese composers, was born in Hiroshima; he lost two of his siblings to radioactive contamination. The dropping of the atomic bomb on his hometown inspired him many years later to write the "Hiroshima Requiem" (1989-91) and the oratorio "Voiceless Voice in Hiroshima" (2000), which was premiered in Germany. Keiko Fujiie, born in 1963, is a native of Kyoto. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki is the background of her collaborative, multidisciplinary work "Wilderness mute" (2018), which combines music, videography, photography, poetry, and Butoh dance. The work also addresses aspects of the Manhattan Project and its aftermath. Mayako Kubo (b. 1947) left Japan in 1970 to study in Europe. In 1978, she composed "Iterum meditemur for Hiroshima" [I am thinking about it] for tape and trombone, a work reflecting Japanese history in an American context. Later, in 2011, the Tōhoku earthquake inspired Kubo's piano piece "Aftershock" and "Sanriku Songs" for soprano and string orchestra. Four years later, Toshio Hosokawa composed the opera "Stilles Meer," [Silent Sea] which premiered at the Hamburg State Opera in 2017: Fukushima, the nuclear accident on stage and how people deal with it.
The paper analyzes the different concepts of musical responses and reactions to these particular cases of nuclear disaster and focuses on different facets of artistic, political and social activism.
Imke Misch studied musicology in Münster, Poitiers, Freiburg and Cologne and received her doctoral title from the University of Cologne for her standard work on Karlheinz Stockhausen's GRUPPEN for 3 orchestras. She has authered several publications and encyclopedia articles and (co)edited books on new music. 1997-2004: Research assistent at the Chair of Contemporary Music of the University of Cologne. 2008-2014: Editor of the Stockhausen Foundation of Music. 2014-2016: Director of studies at the University of Music Münster. 2016-2020 Gender and Intercultural Coordinator at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media. 2020-today: Managing Director, Research Institute of Teacher Education, TU Braunschweig. 2019: Karl-Ferdinand-Werner-Fellowship, Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris; 2019: Fellowship Japan Foundation, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Inka Rantakallio, University of Helsinki
Hip hop feminism, women rappers, and whiteness in Finnish hip hop
This paper discusses methodological and epistemological questions related to my ongoing project, “Women rappers in Finland – The multimodal construction of hip hop feminism, gender, race, and whiteness” (Academy of Finland, 2021–24). The project explores how and what kinds of notions of feminism, gender, race, and whiteness are constructed in the artistry of Finnish women rappers, what challenges women rappers face and how they navigate gender and racial norms in the Finnish and global hip hop scenes.
The project’s theoretical-methodological framework builds on hip hop feminist and Black feminist theory, activist music research, critical race and whiteness studies, ethnography, discourse analysis, and audiovisual close reading. The project aims to produce knowledge about how contemporary feminism(s) shapes popular cultural expression, and particularly how women artists use feminism to challenge norms and claim space within a male-dominated mainstream genre such as hip hop. The project also analyzes how white women and women of colour potentially differ in negotiating racial and gender norms in the Finnish hip hop culture, thus unpacking the “invisibility” of whiteness. As a white female DJ who has worked with many of the artists under analysis, my research is informed by my position as an “outsider within” where one simultaneously navigates belonging and non-belonging and “learn[s] to trust their own personal and cultural biographies as significant sources of knowledge” (Collins 1986: S29).
More broadly, the project aims to advance awareness and discussion about (the lack of) diversity and inclusion in the music industry, i.e. who is heard and who gets to belong. Further, the project seeks to increase understanding about current global feminist and antiracist discourses, and how contemporary artists engage with them.
Key words: Women rappers, hip hop feminism, feminist musicology, whiteness studies
Dr. Inka Rantakallio works as a postdoctoral researcher in Musicology at the University of Helsinki. Her publications deal with the various intersections of rap music, ideologies, and identities. She is co-editor of three books dealing with hip hop and feminist and activist music research. Rantakallio also works as a freelance journalist/editor and DJ.
Dan Mollenkamp, Cardiff University
Globality and Universalism from the Exclusive and the Elite: Reframing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’
John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ has been the subject of popular and academic interest since its release in 1971. While scholars have approached Lennon’s political meanings and ramifications from multiple perspectives, their interest has thus far centred on his music’s presence in counter-cultural, anti-establishment contexts. Its appropriation by politically entrenched, culturally privileged entities remains largely unstudied. Likewise, while popular and social media engagement with the song has shifted in recent years to question its usage in socially elite contexts, this engagement avoids addressing the song’s own elitism or that of its writers.
Though ‘Imagine’ is often an example of a pop music anthem or hymn to progressive activism, its continued use by actors closely connected to a corporatist establishment demands deeper insight. From celebrities claiming solidarity during Covid lockdowns to continued appearances at highly monetised events like the Olympic Games, ‘Imagine’ occupies a unique position in the strata of activist popular music. Using a model adapted from sociologist Norman K. Denzin, this paper reframes ‘Imagine’ as a song with a duality of intention. One espouses a belief in globality and universalism, the other imputes a sense of corporatism, capitalism, and monetisation. Opening new lines of inquiry into the aspirational façade of John Lennon’s writing will not only shed light on how activism can be co-opted, but will also provide opportunities for further research on the ways in which similar products of the global elite can – for better or worse – become strongly linked with activist spaces.
Dan Mollenkamp’s primary research interests lie in transnational communities' interactions with popular music aesthetics. His current primary project collects data from music streaming services to quantify linguistic preferences of music listeners across the world, focussed on defining popular music’s role in promoting and protecting minority or endangered languages. Dan has further research interest in the ways in which popular music is perceived by different audiences, especially when those audiences inhabit different identities to the music’s writers or performers.
Session 3, Wed 10 May, at 11:30, Language Center: sh 205
Małgorzata Heinrich, Warsaw University
Environmental sound, Non-Heteronormativity, and Gender in the works by Barry Truax
Barry Truax (b. 1947) is a Canadian electroacoustical composer and researcher, best known for his work in the area of acoustic ecology and soundscape studies. His compositional oeuvre is characterized by the strong use of environmental sound and is deeply rooted in the ideas of societal impact and ecological influence derived from the collective work of the World Soundscape Project and R. Murray Schafer, as well as on the composer’s own research on acoustic communication. Apart from the ecological aspects, Truax engages with another societal component – the issues of non-heteronormativity, homoeroticism, and gender – which is manifested on both textual and sonic levels in his compositions, such as Androgyne, Mon Amour or Song of Songs.
The aim of the paper is to show the ecological meaning and functions of the used environmental sound in the context of the theoretical fundaments of soundscape composition, lied mostly by Hildegard Westerkamp, but alsoTruax himself, where the contextual recognizability serves as a carrier of information and ecological message. Moreover, the non-heteronormative and gender-fluidity aspects in the works of Truax shall be analysed as another pillar of social activism in the composer’s oeuvre. Finally, the merging and interplay of the two shall be considered to show how one may be supported or complemented by the other. The functions of compositional techniques, including granular synthesis and time-stretching that stress the interplay of the perceived ecological and societal message shall be also emphasized.
Małgorzata Heinrich is a final year student in the Master’s in Musicology Program at Warsaw University. Her main research interests include soundscape composition, the history of the World Soundscape Project, and the leadership styles of orchestral conductors. She is an editor in the contemporary music magazine “Glissando”. She also completed a Double Degree Master's in Management Program at Kozminski University and KEDGE Business School.
Sara Beimdieke, University of Siegen
Back to the roots? Music addressing climate change as part of a (music) history of crises
No doubt, climate change can be singled out among the crises of humanity as a global catastrophe bringing along partly irreversible consequences. However, it is not the first crisis mankind faces. In fact, crises, understood as a public and personal perception of a threatening challenge, have been a crucial part of human existence.
It is music and the arts that played an important part in crises throughout human history. Looking at the history of Western music in specific, musical works were not only written during wars, during years of forced mass migration and oppression or during pandemics. They even read as a direct reaction to these catastrophes in many cases.
The aim of this paper is to present a new view on contemporary music that addresses climate change by enfolding its historical dimension. It will specifically show how composers take recourse on historical forms and genres to create new spaces for grief, calls for attention and political activism. The ‘renaissance’ of the requiem that can be observed in music where composers let themselves be inspired by dying Glaciers will serve as examples here (Andreas Zurbriggen Requiem für einen Gletscher (2016), Paul Walde Requiem for a Glacier (2014) etc.). For its analysis it will draw on the assumption of crisis as a social construction, on the use of crises as a category of analysis in Krisenforschung and approaches studying practices to make crises visible in visual arts.
Hereby this paper will discuss a new view on music history: To see it as a history of crises, where the crisis is the norm and not the exception. And where crises have been and are made audible. One piece of the puzzle in answering the role of historical musicology in the context of ecomusicology?
Sara Beimdieke obtained a PhD in historical musicology (2014) on Ernst Krenek’s television opera “Ausgerechnet und verspielt” (ORF, 1961). Lecturer at the department of Arts and Music at the University of Siegen and the Robert Schumann Hochschule Düsseldorf. Former positions at the University of Music and Dance Cologne and the University of Cologne. Research interests: Modern/Contemporary Music, Musical Orientalism, Music and Media Studies.
Rowan Bayliss Hawitt, University of Edinburgh
Musical ecologies of grief: breathing and environmental justice in Love Ssega’s “Our World (Fight for Air)”
This paper will consider how ecological grief is managed in “Our World (Fight for Air)”, a single released in 2021 by British-Ugandan musician and activist Love Ssega, which addresses the deadly consequences of air pollution on the South Circular road in London. In light of sparse musicological engagement with ecological grief and air, I bring together the concepts of a “political ecology of air-and-breathing-bodies” (Allen 2020) and “weathering” (Neimanis and Walker 2014) to illustrate that, in Ssega’s work, (safe) breathing becomes political, traversed by vectors of race and class. Paying attention to air and breathing facilitates an understanding of how Ssega’s music can help us grieve well, on scales attuned to both individual tragedy and the enormous, distributed nature of environmental pollution. I argue that this music shapes “ecologies of grief” which are communal and therefore can help us engage with loss, not merely as individual mourners, but as makers of safer futures. With this in mind, I suggest that music helps us to inherit ecological grief responsibly, focusing not just on healing trauma, but on interrogating our own responses to injustices.
Rowan Hawitt is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. Her research considers how contemporary folk musicians in the UK conceptualise questions of time around the current environmental and climate crises. Her published work deals with ‘ecological thinking’ in music, phenology and the environmental humanities, and cultural understandings of ecological grief. She is a saxophonist, cellist, and singer and has performed across Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and the USA. Rowan also campaigns for social and climate justice, sits on the EDI Working Group for St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh, and has further research interests in species conservation and decolonial approaches to music and time.
Session 7, Wed 10 May, at 14:00, Language Center: sh 205
Rebekah E. Moore, Northeastern University
“A Method to Match the Message”: A Story of Art and Activism on a Wooden Sailing Ship
A growing body of research in the environmental humanities and ecomusicology documents human-caused ecological crisis and its reverberations in music among disproportionately impacted indigenous communities, from coastal villages to forest highlands. This paper suggests a radical reimagining of the aims and outcomes of this academic labor through the story of a sailing ship called Arka Kinari. Powered by the wind and sun and steered by musicians, artists, and activists across oceans and around continents, Arka Kinari offers us a “method to match the message”: slow travel, expanded ecological consciousness, and exigent and ongoing conversations with the people we write about, and fear have no future. Arka Kinari is a floating, multisensory spectacle of music, video art, dance, and theatre whose journey first unfolded during the global pandemic and continues, tens of thousands of nautical kilometers each year to coastal villages across the Indonesian archipelago, with “culture as the cargo.” The ship calls attention to trade routes and cultural contacts that defined precolonial seafaring. It traverses indigenous knowledges for species survival in a borderless future, after the carbon economy collapse, when the sea’s fast rise due to thermal expansion and glacial and ice sheet melt will compel our collective mass migration. Our research increasingly orients toward social and environmental justice, and many of us are questioning our modes and motivations for travel, the settings and reasons for gathering, and the reach and utility of our scholarship. By retracing Arka Kinari’s voyage through the global pandemic and climate emergency, we might be called to act very differently. Perhaps we might chart new courses for music, research, and activism beyond extractivism, for ethical cultural contact that not only traverses, but simulates the ocean that connects and sustains us. In truth, the carbon economy collapse will leave us no choice.
Dr. Rebekah E. Moore is Assistant Professor of Music and Faculty Scholar for the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research at Northeastern University. Her research and activism span music and environmental justice, artists as essential health workers, and community-engaged teaching and research. She serves on Northeastern’s faculty Climate Action Committee, teaches courses on music, ethics, social justice, and co-founded Bersama Project, an Indonesian nonprofit empowering artists to campaign on gender-based violence and LGBTQ+ rights. She is writing a book on Indonesia’s history of cultural and environmental exploitation, told through the music and career of a Balinese rock band.
Tuulikki Laes, University of the Arts Helsinki
Artists for a sustainable future: Art-science activism within higher music education
In this presentation, we will explore learnings of the art-science activism experiment in the context of higher music education. Art-science activism is deep ecological place learning that requires a willingness to ask new, radical questions within a rational, hierarchical, positivist science context (Flynn & Reed, 2018). Quoting Guattari (2015), removing the “disciplinary dualism of art and science” can open vast possibilities for personal reflexivity, situational awareness, and the critical-conscious acts of building an ecological ontology where the dilemmas bounded in disciplines can be transversed. In the world of complexity, uncertainty, and volatility caused by multiple environmental and humanitarian crises, both scientists and artists attempt to understand the chaos of being by forming, interpreting, and organizing socially constructed realities. Combining and blending different verbal and non-verbal, scientific and artistic conceptualizations and presentations of the complex phenomena of ecological crises and the needed resilience for adapting to sustainable lives is required more than ever.
ARSADAPT: Artists for a sustainable future is a transdisciplinary collaboration between higher music education teachers and students at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki and sustainability researchers from the fields of environmental sciences in the Adaptation and Resilience for Sustainable Growth project 2018-2023 (ADAPT) funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC). The pilot will be carried out during 2022-2023 as a higher education study course with the aim to explore possible artistic pathways for musicians in positioning their practice within the current challenge of environmental crises and adapting to sustainable growth in society. The course has three main starting points: experimental artistic work; a dialogue between art and science; and new, sustainable performance practices. The findings of the pilot will contribute to the emerging field of expanding music professionalism (Westerlund & Gaunt, 2021) and ecopolitical activism in and through music performance.
Dr. Tuulikki Laes is a university researcher at the Center for Educational Research and Academic Development in the Arts (CERADA) at the University of the Arts Helsinki. She completed her doctoral degree in music education in 2017. Recent research projects include ArtsEqual (Strategic Research Council 2015-2019) and The Transformative Politics of Music Education in an Aging Society (2019–2022 Academy of Finland). Her research interests include e.g. policy, systems thinking and socially impactful music and arts education.
Elizabeth Frickey, New York University
Musical Protest and Power in the Fight for New York City's Community Gardens
On Wednesday, October 1, 1997, police surrounded the Chico Mendez Mural Garden on 11th Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, ordering garden supporters to vacate. This was only two weeks after the gardeners filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and mayor Rudy Giuliani for targeting the land for housing developments. By January 1st, 1998, the garden, established seven years prior, was bulldozed. From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, over a dozen newly-formed community gardens were auctioned off to developers. In response, gardeners and environmental activists mobilized in what were loud, and often musical forms of protest, organizing concerts featuring musicians of the local punk scene, or even hosting sing-alongs (complete with song books) at community meetings.
Over two decades later in June 2019, the Manhattan Borough President, City Planning Commission, and City Council passed resolutions to similarly re-zone and destroy the Elizabeth Street Garden (ESG) for a proposed affordable housing development, less than a mile away from the original site of the Mendez Mural Garden. Although the circumstances surrounding the impending destruction of the ESG are easily comparable to the power struggles of the late 1990s, it is worth noting that protests in opposition to the re-zoning ordinance since 2019 have been much quieter. This paper examines the role of music-making not only in the act of community-building in community gardens, but as a form of advocacy for urban green spaces in New York City. By tracing the history of music as an agent of protest in community gardens of the mid-1990s in the Lower East Side to the present, I seek to understand how music might power a greener and more environmentally-just future.
Elizabeth Frickey is a Ph.D. student in musicology at New York University. Prior to her studies at NYU, she earned a master's degree in musicology at Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in Instrumental Music Education from Florida State University. Her current research interests include music and gardens, critical feminist practices, and electroacoustic music and cognition. Elizabeth also recently served as an ecomusicology intern for the non-profit arts organization Classical Music Indy. Outside of her musicological work, Elizabeth is also a certified yoga teacher, a budding podcaster, and occasional community radio DJ.
Session 9, Wed 10 May, at 15:45, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
Eric Martin Usner
Critical Eco-Pedagogies of Musicking & Creative Praxis
Approaching teaching as a creative praxis, this talk considers ways of revisioning the reasons and responsibilities for music in a time of climate crisis. It seeks to identify and abandon normative assumptions of music studies and advocates for a fundamentally socially and ecologically engaged praxis. In short, an ethics of music for our time.
Through critical reflexivity and dialogic ethnographic pedagogy that prioritizes students’ learning and futures, I examine my own journey from music into disciplines of environmental humanities, energy humanities, environmental studies, and critical sustainabilities in search of ways to make teaching music resonate with and responsible to the existential crisis of climate (cf. 6th IPCC, 2022). I wrestle with ways to unlearn “ways of seeing” (Meinig 1979) manifest in Euro-American intersectional and anthropocentric logics and practices that enable the “business as usual” (Meadows et.al. 1972) of consumer capitalism and neoliberalism that inflame (Marya & Patel 2021) our world. My search is for ways to enlist music to not only understand these ways of seeing, but in naming them, to explore their potential for sounding the symbiotic “slow violence” (cf. Nixon 2013; Solnit 2018) of climate change and epistemic violence of Western worldviews.Indeed, one central practice, extractivism, offers an analytic for linking musical-cultural practices, Western academic practices, and climate crisis. Critical sustainabilities offer some intersectional and systems models for understanding linkages of power/energy which power that fuel the systemic social and ecological inflammations we face.
Ultimately, I aim merely to further explore, however imperfectly, the questions: What is our responsibility and possibility for teaching climate crisis through music? How/can we practitioners of creative and aesthetic praxes offer students (and ourselves) modes of responsible participation and repair that nurture the resilient hope needed for the necessary personal and collaborative work for our inclusive future?
Eric Martin Usner: Freelance professor teaching environmental studies and sustainability through music, food, literature, and experiential education both within and without the academy. Studied and taught music and ethnomusicology throughout the US and in Europe.
Kirsten Zemke and Luka Amber Leleiga Lim-Bunnin, University of Auckland
Tangaroa-Tagaloa: Environmental justice in Oceanian Indigenous popular music
Ecological themes are recurrent in Pacific Indigenous popular musics. References to water and associated deities are found in lyrics, soundscapes, and visuals. This paper offers four Pacific Indigenous contemporary songs which centre on Indigenous relationships with aquatic environments. One of the key underpinnings of these relationships is the concept of the ocean as a deity and/or as kin, and this permeates politics, activism, and identity. The four songs we discuss are Te Vaka’s “Tagaloa” (1999), Tiki Taane’s “Tangaroa God of the Sea” (2007), Maisey Rika’s “Tangaroa Whakamautai” (2012), and Alien Weaponry’s “Tangaroa” (2021). Tangaroa and Tagaloa are linguistic cognates, being the name of various ocean-associated Pacific deities. Significantly, Tangaroa/Tagaloa features in many Polynesian creation narratives. These songs cover a number of genres, including drum and bass, heavy metal, and Pacific fusion. This paper argues that, although these songs may not conventionally be considered “activist music,” they carry inherent Indigenous activist or protector politics via the presentation of Indigenous values, stories, and ecological ties. The Pacific, also referred to as Oceania, is a region that is frequently excluded from discussions about climate justice. Yet, Oceania is constituted by countries who are amongst the lowest contributors to global emissions and is one of the regions most severely affected by climate change and environmental damage. This paper thus argues that attention to Oceania—and particularly Indigenous perspectives, experiences, and knowledge—is a crucial element in any discussion of global climate and environmental justice.
Dr. Kirsten Zemke is a Senior lecturer (Pouako Matua) in Ethnomusicology in Te Puna Mārama (School of Social Sciences) at Waipapa Taumata Rau (University of Auckland, New Zealand). Their popular music research and teaching looks at race, gender, and queerness.
Luka Amber Leleiga Lim-Bunnin (Sāmoa: Vaigaga, Saanapu, Safotu) is a doctoral candidate in social anthropology at the University of Oxford. Their research focuses on Pacific Indigenous knowledge networks, intersectionality, epistemic injustice, and climate justice.
N.B. At the end of this session, there is one paper on Studies of Distress and Disadvantage:
Konrad Sierzputowski, Jagiellonian University
“There are no More Lovers Left Alive”: HIV/AIDS Music Activism during the Times of the Crisis and PrEP Era
The COVID crisis has brought unprecedented socio-economic consequences that redefined music culture. The sudden shift from a collective to an exclusively private music experience has undoubtedly changed the market and listening practices. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the situation of immunocompromised people for whom the lockdowns were often life-saving procedures. The sudden social visibility of immunocompromised and seropositive people only proves that the cultural production of coronavirus times resonates with trauma from the past. Therefore, in contemporary music, so eagerly capitalizing on nostalgia, we can find traces of another epidemic that never ended: the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The epidemics of HIV and AIDS generated hundreds of artistic responses that would help understand and rationalize the health threat and social death, reconcile with the loss of loved ones, create a mourning community and increase general social awareness of the lives of seropositive people. Although a number of works in various audio-visual genres have responded directly or indirectly to the AIDS crisis, many of them are about emotions, thus focusing on expressions of grief, anger, or sympathy, rather than on the personal and social consequences of the disease or on political confrontation is important to understand both positive and negative cultural and affective value of the epidemic. Therefore, I will present selected activistic musical responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic which are both historical documents and forms of social activism crucial to understand the past and recent cultural influence of the epidemic.
I will focus on musicians who present a complex critique or enigmatic entanglement in the social system during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In order to do so, I will present and interpret the musical activism of Pet Shop Boys, John Grant, and Sławomir Starosta. Each of them shows a different cultural context of the epidemic but also represents a distinct period of epidemic years: the biggest crisis, the fight for social awareness, and post-pandemic healthcare. To understand the political value of their activism and artistic responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and to analyze music and lyrics structures marked by mutually exclusive and interconnected feelings of gay pleasure and shame, I want to use the aesthetic theory of Jacques Rancière. By using his conception of partage du sensible, I show how artistic musical interventions have helped to achieve social visibility of marginalized groups and how those interventions have contributed to raising awareness about HIV and AIDS, both during the greatest crisis and now during PrEP prevention care. I further argue that musical phenomena can become not only a form of activism but also important points of reference in understanding the fantasies, desires, and fears of the culture of late capitalism in times of the epidemic.
Konrad Sierzputowski received his Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from Jagiellonian University, where he studied the evolution of queer music under the transfigurations of global neoliberalism. His research oscillates around the history of LGBTQ+ music and the politics/aesthetics of queer sonic resistance. In 2018, he published his first book “Listening to the Holograms: Corporeality of Virtual Animated Bands” where he researched semiotics and somathoaesthetics of “non-human” music performances. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Junior Research Scholarship at Columbia University Music Department (2020/21) and the “START” Scholarship of the Foundation for Polish Science (2021). In 2022 he translated and adapted the musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” for the Capitol Musical Theater in Wrocław.
Institutions, Structures, and Systems 1
Session 11, Wed 10 May, at 15:45, Language Center: sh 205
Cassandra Gibson, Monash University
Gender, Power and Silence: The shaping forces of women’s engagement in the Australian classical music industry
Australia’s musical women want to believe in equity and equality. They hope that, by working hard and being professional, they will succeed in finding a place within their musical world. But for women in Australia, this is not as easy as it appears. Influenced by my own experiences as a flautist and inspired by the works of Christina Scharff and Sara Ahmed, this paper interrogates perceptions of equity and progressiveness within the Australian classical music industry.
A part of my PhD research, this presentation draws upon the findings from 20 in-depth interviews with female-identifying musicians from around Australia. With the promise of anonymity, they shared their stories of music, passion, and dedication, while also providing insights into the workplace and musical culture they navigate. Stories of predatory behaviour from male colleagues saturated discussions with young musicians, and what I describe as a patriarchal hierarchy functions to silence women, threatening their future in the industry should they speak out about these injustices.
Their narratives also reveal the injustices that are perpetuated by the musical patriarchy (Green, 1997), and how gendered power dynamics maintain women’s subjection. My findings reveal that himpathetic (Manne, 2021) narratives are encouraged and that these justify and minimise gendered harassment and preferential treatment, silencing these musical women. Their voices also demonstrate conflicts between individual and institutional narratives and the complexities of power, consent, and silence in their experiences as female-identifying musicians. To explore these conflicts, I adopt Craig’s (2007) constellation theory, forming a set of three paired stories.
This paper will reveal moments of shared and individual resilience, drawn together with the collective hope of making this industry a safer and more inclusive place. These findings reveal not only the extent of the problems facing this industry, but also point to more equitable futures.
Craig, C.J. (2007). Story Constellations: A Narrative Approach to Contextualising Teachers’ Knowledge of School Reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(2), 173-188.
Green, L. (1997). Music, Gender, Education. Cambridge University Press.
Manne, K. (2021). Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women. Penguin Random House Uk.
Cassandra Gibson (she/her) is a final year PhD candidate at Monash University. In 2015 she completed her bachelor of secondary teaching (music) through the University of Canberra and returned to university in 2017 to continue her study of music performance in Victoria. Cassandra has since completed her honours in music performance at Monash University (2019) and received her LMusA with distinction (2018). Her passions (feminism and music) are now being combined in her PhD research where she is exploring how female musicians navigate gender-based injustice within Australia’s classical music industry.
Wilhelm Kvist, University of Helsinki; Finnish Literature Society (SKS)
Symphony orchestras as promotors of human rights – a utopia?
Performing arts organisations including symphony orchestras have an acknowledged capacity to shape our understanding of the world through their actions and texts (Hesmondhalgh 2018; Ramnarine 2011). Predominantly publicly funded performing arts organisations moreover typically have moral and legal obligations relating to promoting sustainable development goals and securing human rights in accordance with international conventions and national legislation. Yet, many orchestras seem ostensibly unconcerned with or ignorant towards issues of social and ecological justice. When such issues have been brought up in conversations with managers and artistic leaders, they have sometimes provoked reactions of discomfort. This presentation features examples of reactions that representatives of performing arts organisations in Finland have demonstrated when issues of social and ecological justice have been raised. Reactions stem from personal encounters and interviews with representatives of performing arts organisations in a variety of settings. An explanation for the demonstrated reactions is sought in a widespread but flawed view, according to which demands for social and ecological justice are constraining in relation to artistic freedom and integrity.
Wilhelm Kvist MMus is a doctoral candidate in musicology at University of Helsinki. He is preparing a thesis on the reproduction of inequalities in the symphony repertory, especially with respect to gender. He has written extensively on symphony orchestras in his capacity as Editor of Music at Hufvudstadsbladet, the main Swedish-language newspaper in Finland. In 2020, he was awarded the Topelius Prize, the foremost award for Swedish-language journalists. Currently he is on a research leave enabled by generous grants by the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and the Victoriastiftelsen foundation.
Ann Werner and Cecilia Ferm Almqvist, Södertörn University
Ethical and equal: Policy for social justice in higher music education
This paper analyses policy for equality, ethical behavior and against sexual harassment adopted by three institutions (The Sibelius Academy, Finland, The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Estonia, and The Liszt Ferenc Academy, Hungary) for higher music education (HME) in the past five years. The #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter (BLM) have put a spotlight on social equality and motivated changes in policy and activities in cultural institutions. This development has affected higher music education where cultures of silence around sexual harassment have been challenged. With feminist policy analysis (Bacchi 2009) this paper is asking how the solutions and actions presented in the policies are constructing the problems they attempt to solve. This aim of the paper is to understand how HME constructs both problems and solutions of social equality through policy in the current time. Further, it looks at who is constructed as responsible in the policies and what procedures for complaint (Ahmed 2021) exist, and how they are described.
The perspective of the paper is that policy is performative, brings about actions in the institutions, what actions those are affect the culture of the institution in question. Further, policy is a construct of the time and place it is written in. They indicate management’s ideas about social equality and how to improve the conditions in HME for all teachers and students. Through policy the ideas about social equality of the institution can be uncovered.
Ann Werner is an associate professor in Gender Studies at Södertörn University and a senior lecturer in Musicology at Uppsala University. Her research has mainly been concerned with gender, music and media and her latest book on Bloomsbury is titled ‘Feminism and gender politics in mediated popular music’ (2022).
Institutions, Structures, and Systems 2
Session 15, Thu 11 May, at 10:00, Language Center: sh 207
Pauliina Syrjälä, Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
Licence to compose – Oral composing practices as a catalyst for inclusivity
The creative processes of music-making are as versatile as the music itself: however, research-wise they often remain partly unexposed. In this presentation I will discuss the significance and essence of oral composing methods, introducing one specific approach as a case study. I argue that giving every musician a licence to compose is one step towards more inclusive music education, which has typically been dominated by Western art music, where a composer is often separate from a performer. Through the folk music pedagogy developed at the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department, the narratives of the process of composing have been re-written: composing belongs to every musician.
Within my artistic doctoral research, I analyzed my own practices as a folk music composer and recognized a creative method, in which improvisation acts as a compositional tool: I will demonstrate improcomposing through playing by including live music examples in the presentation. Through this ongoing study, I deepen the analysis of the process of improcomposing through playing, and furthermore, articulate how this approach could be utilized in various teaching and learning environments. The research methods connect artistic research with narrative practice-based inquiry executed among three music professionals, who employ improvisation-based oral composing techniques as part of their praxis and pedagogical work.
When every musician is encouraged to compose and the oral methods are considered relevant and equal to other approaches, it allows the creative voices of musicians from diverse educational, musical, and cultural backgrounds to be heard. Not demanding a specific frame for education, oral methods such as improcomposing through playing can be applied in different kinds of settings, with an opportunity to express one’s creativity without conditions that often emerge from the conventions of Western art music. Thus, oral creative processes increase inclusivity and can act as one vehicle for decolonizing music education.
DMus Pauliina Syrjälä is a lecturer in the folk music department at Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. Syrjälä is an experienced educator and an acknowledged artist within the folk music field, performing with kantele both as a soloist and in various ensembles. During her artistic doctoral studies, Syrjälä focused on the oral creative practices of a folk musician today. Her postdoc research themes include creativity within (folk) musicianship, collaboration and interaction in the practices of co-composing, and oral creative methods as means for more accessible and inclusive music education.
Marita Buanes Djupvik, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Where do broken hearts go? Gender, race and academic neglect in Whitney Houston’s music
In 1985, Whitney Houston released her first studio album, and her career took off instantly. The success of her two first albums made her an international popstar appealing to a wide range of demographics. She was one of the first African American female artists with heavy rotation on MTV, and also became the first artist with seven consecutive number one hits, beating the record of six held by The Beatles and The Bee Gees. Despite her enormous commercial success, however, there is very little academic work investigating her music; or perhaps the former may be a cause of the latter: Has Houston’s placement in the broad genre of pop, often associated with labels like “easy listening” and “middle of the road music”, made her seem too superficial for serious musicological research? This paper is placed in the intersection of anti-racist and anti-sexist activism in music and music scholarship, and activist music history research. I argue that race and gender lies as the core of the scholarly neglect of Houston's music. By using a socio-musicological approach, this paper investigates how gender and race is expressed in Houston’s performance and how this has resulted in both her popular success and her exclusion from forms of popular music seen as more “authentic” and more worthy of serious academic study.
Marita Buanes Djupvik is an Associate Professor of Music at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and hold a PhD in musicology form the University of Agder, Kristiansand. Her research involves an interdisciplinary approach to musical theoretical and socio-cultural analysis, focusing on the study of gender and race in popular music.
Ken Ueno, UC Berkeley
Towards the Un-Corseting of Non-Western Bodies
In his seminal article, “Improvisation After 1950,” George Lewis illuminates how the process of exnomination impacted notions of improvisative musical practices in Western art music in the postwar era. Citing the media critic, John Fiske, Lewis reminds us that, “Exnomination is the means by which whiteness avoids being named and thus keeps itself out of the field of interrogation and therefore off the agenda for change.” Noting how Western European Classical music values are entrenched exnominatively in music pedagogy in the United States, with particular excessiveness in the training of the voice, where the particularities of the performance practice of Western opera continues to be promulgated as the standard, in this paper, drawing from my own performance practice, I propose moves towards creating a personal practice that seeks to “uncorset” musical practice, and by extension, claim artistic agency for those who do not belong to the dominant culture, an act of anti-hegemonic resistance, drawing from Halberstamian Low Theory as well as the epistemologies of the south as defined by Santos.
Ken Ueno is a composer, vocalist, sound artist, and author. His music and installations has been performed and installed around the world. He is known for inventing vocal techniques, composing “person-specific” music, instrumentalizing architecture, and for his activism in decolonizing classical music. Ueno is a Professor at the UC Berkeley. As an author, Ueno’s writings have been published by the Oxford Handbook, the New York Times, Palgrave Macmillan, and Wiley & Sons. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and his bio appears in The Grove Dictionary of American Music.
Institutions, Structures, and Systems 3
Session 19, Thu 11 May, at 14:15, Language Center: sh 207
Lea Jung, University Siegen
“Taking Up Space” – Safer and digital spaces created by feminist music networks
In the last years awareness and demands for more gender equality in music industries are increasing in German discourse also through movements like #deutschrapmetoo or #punktoo which apply the general #metoo-movement to the local scenes of Hip Hop and Punkrock. Furthermore and incessantly, activist music networks work to create a change in gender equality through different approaches.
My paper shows how the work of four activist networks rooted in different genres and practices (two international, two local) can be seen as directly connected to perceived issues of the field concerning spaces:
- Such as creating “safer” spaces as a reaction to the experience of male gendered spaces in music industries (example of reasons in Hopkins/ Berkers 2019) by organizing FLINTA*-only jam sessions (anonymous network/ rock) and women-only orchestral weekends (Frauenorchester Berlin/ symphonic).
- Or creating digital spaces by websites and databases for visibility as a reaction of the perception of invisibility and exclusion of FLINTA*+ musicians (“grrrlz* to the Front”/ punkrock; female:pressure/ electronic).
By a multidimensional situational analysis (Clarke et al. 2018) fed by group discussion with activists, my paper elaborates how the networks situate themselves in the field of demanding gender equality in music industries, how they position their social worlds in an arena (referring to Anselm Strauss 1978) and how they construct the field itself.
Space in that sense is an active part of the production of power and social relations. Especially subjective experiences and feelings resulting in the power-dependent production of space shine a light on exclusion mechanisms (ref. to feminist geography).
Insights in these networks provide thoughts about possibilities and limitations of alternative and extended participation in safer and digital spaces (the latter regarding to Harraway  2010; Wajcman/ Young/ FitzMaurice 2020).
Lea Jung (she/her), M.A. Since 2021, research assistant for Popular Music and Gender Studies at the University of Siegen, since 2020, lecturer at the HfMT Cologne. Lea Jung studied music education, musicology and educational science at Justus Liebig University Giessen (B.A.), cultural studies at the University of Koblenz-Landau (M.A.) and is working on her dissertation "Doing Gender while making music " at the University of Siegen and Leuphana University Lüneburg. The topics of her project also arouse from her own experiences as a female musician and working in feminist activism herself (musicwomengermany e.V., feminetz e.V.).
Anna Ramstedt, University of Helsinki
Outlining preventive measures for gendered and sexual misconduct, and emotional abuse in classical music education in Finland
In my article-based dissertation I study gendered and sexual misconduct and emotional abuse in classical music education in Finland. Based on interviews with 14 Finnish, cisgender white musicians, I draw connections between representations, narratives, practices, and traditional power hierarchies, and the construction of harmful social norms in classical music culture. I argue that beliefs and understandings of gender and sexuality in classical music practices normalize gendered and sexual misconduct. Further, I argue that practices and norms specific to classical music culture, such as idealization of musical excellence, and musical “heroes” construct value systems that allow for emotional abuse – such as verbally abusive behavior or emotional neglect by classical music teachers.
Finally, the findings of my articles call for music education institutions, and practitioners to scrutinize the questionable values that may underpin practices in current music education and provoke to re-examine teaching practices. In this conference paper, based on my research, I aim to outline what kind of changes should be implemented in institutions, as well as by practitioners and teachers in their pedagogical practice in order to prevent and address gendered and sexual misconduct and emotional abuse in classical music education. Lastly, I outline what are the actions that a researcher can do to facilitate change. The consequences of allowing the gendered and sexual misconduct, and emotional abuse continue to be unaddressed leaves individuals at risk of long-term harmful and devastating effects that such behaviors can have on their mental and physical health and well-being.
Anna Ramstedt (M.Mus. and M.A.) is a pianist, piano teacher and PhD student in Musicology in the University of Helsinki, Finland. In her multidisciplinary dissertation she focuses on gender inequality, whiteness, as well as gendered and sexual misconduct, and abuse of power in the classical music scene in Finland. She is currently a visiting PhD Student in University of Utrecht (NL) and based in Amsterdam.
Studies of Distress and Disadvantage 1
Session 14, Thu 11 May, at 10:00, Language Center: sh 206
Leena Julin, University of the Arts Helsinki
Hate speech in the name of God – hiding discrimination behind religion
In my presentation I will tell about my art project “Hate speech in the name of God” which
used art and in specific church music to bring injustice into discussion in the context of religious circles. The starting point was the discussion concerning LGBTIQ+ minorities – in general, and in specific concerning their rights in the church and in the society. When justified with one’s faith or even God, it seemed and still seems to be allowed to say almost anything offensive, discriminatory and cruel. I decided to use music to show what is going on. Since these cruelties were offered as some higher truth why not treat them like other dogmas, too: compose traditional, nice tonal church music to them?
I collected speeches, comments and feedback said and written in the (ev. luth.) church of Finland regarding sexual and gender minorities. I then organized these texts according to reoccurring themes and used them as lyrics, composing six pieces in ”iconic” church music styles. The pieces were published as music videos.
The aim was that the contrast between the lyrics and the music would wake people up to realise that hate speech is hate speech even when religion is used to attempt to justify it.
Church music is rarely seen as anything else but as devotional music serving the denomination it is linked to. I am however interested in widening the definition of church music to also non-devotional music that can observe, comment, and even criticize the church and religion, if needed.
Having a master’s degree in both music and theology, Leena Julin is combining her expertise as a composer of investigatory music. She is especially interested in the human mind and religiousness. Julin is currently doing artistic research as a doctoral student at the DocMus -doctoral school of the Sibelius Academy in the University of the Arts, Helsinki. Her research focuses on religious language mirroring being human, and the connection between religious habits and lived life. Julin is also a member of the activist music research association Suoni ry.
Yalda Yazdani, University of Siegen
Music between creativity and censorship in post revolutionary Iran: Ethnographic fieldwork research by focusing on musical activities of women singers in different regions of Iran
The position of women in Iranian society is mostly dependent on the political discourse of the country. After the Revolution of 1979, the position of women in Iranian society drastically changed. This has also extended into the role of females as musicians in Iran. According to the revolutionary fundamentalist Islamic government, it is illegal and improper for women to sing solo in public spaces and women's participation in music became more restricted. In some ways, women’s status has improved — such as increased literacy, and a greater number of women musicians in general (paralleling an increase in musicians of both genders). However, in the sight of the law, women and men do not have equal rights. So, the dynamic of an increased number of women musicians appearing even as restrictions increased creates a rich opportunity for research. The opportunities for women to record and perform music differ from those of men, and many women, especially singers, find a creative outlet only in underground, illegal situations. Therefore, the main focus of my presentation/documentary screening is based on activities and strategies of female singers for overcoming the censorship in Iranian society. In addition, I am going to discuss the activities and significant role of women and women's music in the recent social political movement by the names/ revolutionary codes, “Mahsa/Jina Amini” and “Women-Life-Freedom” (2022).
Yalda Yazdani is an Iranian ethnomusicologist and curator. Currently she is working as a research fellow and also completing her PhD studies at University of Siegen in Germany. Since 2009 she has been undertaking various fieldwork research about female vocal songs and music in different regions of Iran. From 2015 she has been organising various intercultural projects across Iran and Europe with the aim of creating collaboration bridges between European and Middle-Eastern musicians and artists. In 2017 and 2018 she founded and curated the festivals “Female Voice of Iran” and in 2021, “Female Voice of Afghanistan” in collaboration with Contemporary Opera Berlin.
Studies of Distress and Disadvantage 2
Session 18, Thu 11 May, at 14:15, Language Center: sh 206
Anu Lampela (Vehviläinen), Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki
Two Praxes of Anxiety: Similarities between the Finnish Awakened of the 19th Century and Practicing Piano Today
This presentation offers a critical gaze towards the Western art music tradition and its sometimes harmful practices. Through autoethnographic study on my piano praxis I describe what went wrong during the early years of my professional education at the Sibelius Academy. I worked hard but without joy. The Western art music performance education focuses a lot on the musical work (Goehr 1994) and instrumentalism (Åberg 2013) but deals less with the mental strength of a performer.
To explore my anxiety as a student I lean to the study of the historian Juha Siltala (1992). According to him the strong rise of a Lutheran religious movement in Finland in the early 19th century, “the Awakened”, is the key to Finnish anxiety. Examining anxiety through a psychoanalytic perspective, Siltala juxtaposes a mentally broken individual seeking salvation from this religious movement against the psychoanalytical concept of an unfulfilled relationship between a child and a parent. The god of the Awakened was great and harsh, man was small, sinful and unworthy. The search for god's mercy had to be continuous, and a person had to surrender to it completely. The struggle was daily and it had to be carried out in the right way so that salvation in death would finally be possible. This is also pretty much the way I experienced my early years at the Sibelius Academy: constant, endless and merciless struggle. No joy.
In my presentation, I discuss about the similarities between the way I have practiced piano and the way the Awakened experienced and practiced their faith (Siltala 1992, Hiltunen 2012). Both praxes underlined never-ending sacrifices, the former for the divine “Art” and the latter for God. Also, both praxes made the practitioners feel constantly bad and insufficient. Using my autoethnographic data collected during many years, I juxtapose descriptions of my piano practicing and the way the praxis of the early Finnish Awakened movement is described.
D.Mus, Anu Lampela (Vehviläinen) is a pianist, researcher, university lecturer and head of the DocMus Doctoral School (SibA). She has recorded all solo piano works by Karol Szymanowski (Alba Records). Vehviläinen’s research topics include artisthood, artist’s relationship with the audience and the musical work, piano praxis, presence, Szymanowski's piano music, pietism, orientation and embodiment in piano playing. She has studied friction between art fields with actor Jussi Lehtonen and developed collaborative artistic research method with dancer Kirsi Heimonen and visual artist Petri Kaverma. She studies high level piano pedagogy with professor Juha Ojala and pianist Niklas Pokki.
Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
“Lou leig-u luu” and a fake Sámi hat: How to identify cultural appropriation of Sámi yoiking in Finnish music
There is a long history of cultural appropriation of Sámi culture in Finland. The most common form is the use in tourism of poor imitations of gákti, the traditional Sámi clothing that is part of Sámi cultural heritage. Cultural appropriation of gákti also often involves presenting Sámi as primitive and dirty. However, criticism of cultural appropriation of Sámi culture usually gets categorised as useless whining. This brushes aside structural implications of cultural appropriation. A Finn can freely use a fake gákti for tourism promotion, but a Sámi walking in a gákti often gets ridiculed and discriminated against. In perpetuating stereotypes, cultural appropriation of Sámi culture strengthens racism and cements unequal power relations.
Cultural appropriation of Sámi culture takes place also in music. The Sámi vocal music tradition, yoiking, has inspired many. As a Sámi researcher, I believe that the time is ripe for critically examining cultural appropriation of Sámi yoiking, understanding how music can discriminate, and learning from past mistakes.
Through a case study of “Dálvi Duottar luohti – Talvitunturin joikha” by Seppo Paakkunainen in 1995 and its performance by YL, including a fake Sámi hat, I examine how to identify cultural appropriation of Sámi yoiking. I situate the choir piece in the wider context of cultural appropriation of Sámi culture in the 1990s. I analyse musical elements, lyrics, and performance of the composition. Drawing from previous research on exoticism, I attempt to explain how to identify cultural appropriation of Sámi yoiking.
This paper brings an indigenous voice in the discussion on racism, cultural appropriation and activism in music, and contributes to the understanding of why the use of Sámi yoiking by outsiders is problematic. The objective is not to prohibit being inspired but to suggest how to cooperate with the Sámi music field in a sustainable manner that benefits everyone.
Pirita Näkkäläjärvi has a unique career combining indigenous advocacy and business. She works as Director at EY, Finland’s largest consulting firm and is an elected member of the Sámi Parliament in Finland. Näkkäläjärvi is a doctoral researcher at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. Her topic is cultural appropriation of Sámi yoiking. Näkkäläjärvi holds MSc Media & Communications (with Distinction) from London School of Economics and MSc Economics from Aalto University. She has yoiked since she was a child, and yoiked in a short film called “The Killing of Čáhcerávga” representing Finland at the Venice Biennale 2019.
Yumi Notohara, Osaka College of Music
The A-Bombed Musical Instruments of Hiroshima: Cultural and Peace Education Roles as Testimonies of Wars
This paper explores and discusses cultural and peace education roles of musical instruments of Hiroshima as testimonies of wars. Specifically, it also focuses on these musical instruments surviving in the a-bombed cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, known as “The Hibaku Piano” and “The Hibaku Guitar.” Although the first Hibaku Piano was donated to the Peace Memorial Museum at Hiroshima in 1961 as a relic of the atomic bombing, they had almost ignored for 40 years (Notohara, 2021). After one of the pianos was repaired and tuned to use for the public (Yagawa, 2010), more and more attention is getting paid to them. Not only musicians, but also writers have been attracted by them as a theme of their novels, children’s stories, or films (Notohara, 2021).
Unfortunately, such social movements are in parallel with the decreasing of the number of the Hibakusha (the survivors from the atomic bomb). In other words, the cultural and peace education roles of the survived instruments will be more attracted than storytellers. However, can the instruments play the same roles as the Hibakusha as testimonies of wars? If so, what roles can they play? Any differences in historical significance from other relics or remains? The more attracted the survived instruments will be year by year, the more overlooked such essential questions will be emerged.
Thus, this paper interprets not only the musical roles, but also cultural and peace education roles of these survived instruments referring to A. Assmann’s (2011) memory study and N. Saunders’ (2003) trench art theory. The following three examples are examined in detail: (1) the children’s story, “Misako’s Hibaku Piano” (2007), (2) the film, “Hiroshima Piano” (2020); and (3) the children’s story, “Lagrima Ga Kikoeru (The sound of the ‘Lagrima’)” (2020) featuring the Hibaku Guitar.
Yumi Notohara (Ph D Hiroshima University) is currently an associated professor (part-time) at Osaka College of Music in Japan. She has been engaged in music related with the a-bombed city Hiroshima for more than 25 years. Under the theme, she published the book titled “Hiroshima Ga Narihibikutoki (The Sound of Hiroshima)” in 2015 and some papers such as “Musical Narrative in Representing Hiroshima: Erkki Aaltonen’s Second Symphony ‘Hiroshima’ (1949)” in 2017. She is also a visiting researcher at King’s College London (2022-2023).
N.B. One paper on Studies of Distress and Disadvantage, Konrad Sierzputowski's “There are no More Lovers Left Alive”: HIV/AIDS Music Activism during the Times of the Crisis and PrEP Era, is at the end of the Session 9 (online) on Monday 10 May at 15:45. See the abstract under the title Ecomusicology.
Work for Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion 1
Session 17, Thu 11 May, at 14:15, online (Language Center: Festive Hall)
Stephanie A. Budwey, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Liturgies of Livability or Liturgical Violence: What Kind of Space is Christian Congregational Song Creating for LGBTQIA+ and Nonbinary People?
This paper draws from my book Religion and Intersex: Perspectives from Science, Law, Culture, and Theology, where I discuss the notions of a theology of ‘both/neither,’ liturgical violence, and liturgies of livability for intersex people. Here I will expand these notions to include LGBTQIA+ and nonbinary people.
A theology of ‘both/neither’ for LGBTQIA+ and nonbinary people (1) acknowledges that LGBTQIA+ people exist; (2) is based on a sexually polymorphic reading of Genesis 1:27 that LGBTQIA+ people are made in God’s image; and (3) celebrates difference, the truth and reality of the diversity of God’s creation, and the multiplicity of human embodiment.
LGBTQIA+ and nonbinary people experience liturgical violence when liturgies are not based in a theology of ‘both/neither.’ They feel invisible and excluded in worship because they are not recognized and named or, even worse, they are told they are sinful, inhuman, and not made in God’s image. This happens through the exclusive use of binary (feminine and masculine), cis- and heteronormative language for God and humans in congregational song. This type of language is rooted in a sexually dimorphic reading of Genesis 1:27 that does not recognize the multiplicity and diversity of creation, including human embodiment. Liturgies of livability, on the other hand, employ a theology of ‘both/neither’ as they recognize and name LGBTQIA+ and nonbinary people through the use of inclusive and expansive language for humans and God. This is based on a sexually polymorphic reading of Genesis 1:27 that recognizes LGBTQIA+ and nonbinary people as made in God’s image and as a reflection of the multiplicity and diversity of creation.
After exploring the qualities of liturgical violence and liturgies of livability, this paper will then look at examples from Christian congregational song that either hinder or promote the full humanity and flourishing of LGBTQIA+ and nonbinary people.
Stephanie A. Budwey is the Luce Dean’s Faculty Fellow Assistant Professor of the History and Practice of Christian Worship and the Arts and the Director of the Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture Program at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, TN, USA. Her teaching and research focus on the relationships between social justice issues, liturgy, and the arts. She is the author of Religion and Intersex: Perspectives from Science, Law, Culture and Theology (2023), Sing of Mary: Giving Voice to Marian Theology and Devotion (2014), and co-editor of In Spirit and Truth: A Vision of Episcopal Worship (2020).
James Hazel Maher, The University of Sydney
The Collaborative Sonic Anarchive; Working Through Precarity
Led by two composers (James Hazel Maher and Sonya Holowell), Danger/Dancer (https://www.instagram.com/dangerdancerproject) is a project that was developed during the early months of the COVID19 lockdown in Sydney. This project was concerned with constructing an online counter-archive of sound-based responses to three architectural sites - associated, respectively speaking, with Sydney's social-housing, institutional and carceral past - which were (and still are) under threat from a silencing-politics of historical erasure, due to myriad factors associated with gentrified over-development in the region.
The collaborative anarchive posed accessible possibilities to continue creating work within the limitations imposed by COVID19 – a phenomena which exacerbated ongoing difficulties within the Australian arts industry (and artistic practice within neoliberalism in general). Barriers in this way include the increased difficulty of obtaining arts funding; lack of institutional support for experimental projects – not to mention a lack of publicly available performance spaces. In this context, the fluidity of construction associated with the anarchival process provided an avenue beyond elite institutional restraints, within precarious material conditions – a situation much more realistic for the emerging or independent composer/artist. In this capacity, the counter-archive affords a conceptual space for practice-led innovation within the flux and uncertainty of crisis associated with late-stage Capitalism. As an incomplete and unstable repository […] a space of impermanence and play (Kashmere, 2010), the anarchival process generates ways in which to create an ongoing event in an online space, while developing new modes of public engagement, and revealing what is possible if face-to-face performances are not pragmatic.
From these perspectives, the proposed paper presentation will provide an auto-ethnographic narration of the social and artistic contexts of the Danger/Dancer, as situated among other forms of 21st century, sound-based anarchival and sonic-activist projects (such as Ultra Red) that were developed in (and despite of) precarious social conditions; followed by an exploration of the the broader applications of the 'anarchive' within virtualised, social geographies and communities; among a discussion of the nuanced ethics of what it means for artists to 'sound' the voice(s) of marginalised sites and histories. In these capacities, the presentation will conclude with a tentative methodology concerned with compositional modes of working with (and for) the complexities of soundscapes bound to contested historical sites, spaces, and communities.
James Hazel Maher is an Australian composer, artist, and sonic-researcher who lived in social-housing for 14 years. James uses sound, language, utterance, and (re)performance to explore what it means to live, love, labour, and listen through precarity. James’ work and research spans extended scoring practices; instrumental and electronic music; and lateral sonic interventions. James creative work has been performed by ensembles and individuals both nationally and abroad. He has published research with Limelight Magazine, Disclaimer/Liquid Architecture and ACT Journal for Music and Performance (University of Bayreuth). James works as a lecturer and tutor at the University of Sydney. He is founder of experimental arts publication ADSR ZINE.
Linus Eusterbrock, University of Cologne
From coal train to classroom: What can a climate-conscious music education learn from climate activism?
For climate change mitigation efforts to be successful, societies must undergo not only a technological but also a socio-cultural transformation (Figueres and Rivett-Carnac 2020) in which the arts are increasingly considered to play a role (Bentz and O'Brien 2019; Ribac and Harkins 2020). Despite a long tradition of music in environmental activism (Pedelty 2012), so far, environmental concerns have largely been absent from debates in music education (Shevock 2020). What can a climate-conscious music education learn from musical climate activism and artivism?
Drawing from the author’s experience in both music education and climate activism, and building on eco-literate music pedagogy (Shevock 2018) and activist music education (Hess 2019), the paper suggests several lessons for schools, higher education and community music to be drawn from climate activism and ecomusicology (Allen and Dawe 2016). Examples from the author’s educational practice include practicing climate-activist music education as place-based music education (Matsunobu 2018); using soundscape approaches (Murray Shafer 1977) in the music classroom and addressing climate change as an intersectional justice question; as well as the using the potential of popular music to explore emotions (DeNora 2000) and shape socio-climatic imaginaries (Milkoreit 2017) as collective imaginations of the future that can support deliberation and decision-making in the present.
Linus Eusterbrock is a research assistant at the University of Cologne (Germany). After working at the Philharmony of Luxemburg and as a secondary school teacher, he obtained a Ph.D. in music education from the University of Cologne. His research interests include digital music production and musical responses to the climate crisis.
Work for Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion 2
Session 27, Fri 12 May, at 14:00, Language Center: sh 205
Van Armenian, University of Ottawa
Music Education as Active Reconciliation: A Model for Degenociding Colonial States
Much discussion and calls to action have been made in adopting social justice pathways of reconciliation to counter the enterprise of colonialism. The main direction of policy makers and researchers alike has been, at best, to find mechanisms to revive Indigenous cultures for Indigenous peoples. This paper looks at the work being done to present Indigenous culture, particularly music, to settler-Canadian students, and reflects on how this can be used as a tool for reconciliation (Dolloff, 2020; Prest et al., 2015; Kennedy, 2009). The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action (2015) ask for inclusionary strategies in society, education, practices, and policies, and exposes continued Canadian affinities to ideas of the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius (art. 46. ii). Likewise, Indigenous scholars have exposed colonial failings on reconciliation, noting the power imbalances that still dominate any settler/Indigenous exchange and the historical realities of appropriation (Robinson 2020; Donald, 2009; Simpson, 2017).
Curricular renewal can indeed be an important foundation to help reverse colonial-racist principles that still govern colonial states (Walker, 2020). Music, as a powerful identity-building mechanism, can contribute to what I call a degenociding process, one that redefines, from early childhood, settler relationships with the land they occupy. I argue that this will lead to the child gaining a national identity imbued with dignity and understanding and thus contribute to the States obligations to ensure that the child right holder’s capabilities and dignity are not limited by the remnants of racist colonial thinking. I conclude that, through music, colonial states can help realize what Coulthard (2014) refers to grounded normativity, offering Canadian learners an ethical and meaningful relationship with their environment through land-based Indigenous metaphors, histories, aesthetics, and indeed soundscapes, empowering them to participate in society by defining and developing their community and national identity.
Van Armenian is a doctoral student at the School of Music at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Human Rights Research and Education Center. His research is guided by extensive experience as a professional musician and interest in how music can be a positive force for healing and societal consolidation. His thesis work focuses on mechanisms that value the learning of Indigenous music as a tool for the development of a unifying and ethical Canadian identity that makes visible the experiential richness of Indigenous worldviews. He has recently presented his interdisciplinary work at several international conferences.
Allison Alcorn, Illinois State University
You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught: A Case Study of Agency in University Music History Students
Today’s university students are frequently characterized by the American public as lazy, entitled, and self-centered, interested only in staging the next video prank or pucker-lipped selfie for social media. On the contrary, as a university professor, I have found this generation to be among the most passionate advocates for social justice, equity, and inclusion as any group of students I have had the privilege of teaching in my nearly-twenty-five-year academic career. Where I have found my own music students sometimes stymied, however—living as they do, in the midst of American mid-western conservatism—is in finding agency to effect the change they so desperately want to see. This year, a Symphonic Music class claimed agency to lend their voices in teaching children about diversity in symphonic music to show children classical musicians who look like they do, who come from many different cultural backgrounds, and who have crafted extraordinary music. Collaborating with an Art Education class, the students wrote, illustrated, and published a set of children’s books about symphonies and musicians representing marginalized communities. The art teams also created title pieces, which were displayed in a public exhibition along with the artwork and storyboards that gallery visitors viewed while listening to the symphonic work of each book. At the gallery opening reception, students presented a copy of their books to several local community organizations that work with under-represented children. Additionally, each student takes a set of the books with them into their own classrooms, studios, and ensembles so that, through symphonic music, they can carefully teach the next generation of young people about acceptance and inclusion.
Allison Alcorn is Professor of Musicology at Illinois State University, where she serves as Coordinator of the Musicology and Ethnomusicology department and is active in the Honors and Study Abroad programs. She is Vice President of the American Musical Instrument Society and is past Editor of that society's Journal. Her research and publication has centered on the Hinners Organ Company of Pekin, Illinois and more recently on the physicist and luthier Carleen Maley Hutchins. She previously taught at Trinity International University (Deerfield, Illinois) and has served on the Governing Board of the Organ Historical Society and the American Organ Archives.
Methods of Activism in Research 1
Session 24, Fri 12 May, at 10:00, Topelia: C 120
Andrea Dankić, Umeå University
But what if my research interest ends up hurting me or my family?: Reflections on methodology and ethics
In recent years, the topic of the role of emotions within the research process has gained increased interest among scholars (Dickson-Swift, V. et al. 2009, Holland 2009, Watts 2008). The role of researcher emotions at various stages of the research process is one recent aspect (Reed & Towers 2021).
As a hip-hop scholar, my research interest has so far mainly focused on aspects of hip-hop music and culture aligned with my personal and political interests. These can be summarized as creative processes within feminist and anti-racist hip-hop communities along with both commercial and “underground” contexts (Dankić 2013, 2019). Upon my recent interest in researching the contemporary Swedish commercial rap music scene, which is very influenced by drill and trap music, I have been taken by surprise by the initial various emotions and thoughts of discomfort that have emerged within me as a part of that process. Fear is one of them. During the 2010s there has been an increase in fatal youth violence in Sweden, especially among (very) young Black men, often connected to various criminal gangs. 2020s has seen an escalation of this violence with the and is now one of the most discussed issues in media and by politicians. The fear caused by the documented connection between the youth violence and the present-day commercial rap scene has shaped my understanding of a possible research focus within the field. What role does emotion play in how the research project is shaped? How does this affect the ethical aspects of the research process?
By combining autoethnography and reflexivity, this paper will provide a critical reflection and discussion on methodological and ethical aspects of the role of emotion in qualitative research.
Keywords: methodology, reflexivity, emotions, autoethnography, ethics, hip-hop
Burkitt, I. (2012). Emotional reflexivity: Feeling, emotion and imaginatios in reflexive dialogues. Sociology 46(3), 458–472.
Dickson-Swift, C., James, E, Kippen, S. et al. (2009). Researching sensitive topics: Qualitative research as emotion work. Qualitative Research 9(1), 61–79.
Holland, J. (2009). Emotions and research: Some general and personal thoughts. In: Weller, S. and Caballero C. (eds), Up close and personal: Relationships and emotions within and through research (Families & Social Capital Research Group Working Paper No 25). London: South Bank University.
Reed, K. & Towers, L. (2021). Almost confessional: Managing emotions when research breaks your heart. Sociological Research Online, 2021 0, 1–18.
Watts, J. H. (2008). Emotion, empathy, and exit: Reflections on doing ethnographic qualitative research on sensitive topics. Medical Sociology Online 3(2), 3–14.
Andrea Dankić (PhD) is a University Lecturer in Ethnology at Umeå University, Sweden. Dankić’s research interests include musical practice, creative processes, knowledge production and power structures, mainly focusing on hip-hop. She is a member of IASPM-Norden and has been a part of the IASPM Executive Committee since 2019.
Matti Huttunen, Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
Music and Militant Optimism: Some Implications of Ernst Bloch’s Philosophy of Music
My paper deals with German philosopher Ernst Bloch’s philosophy of music, especially his idea of analyzing the social and utopian nature of music and other cultural products. Orientation to future was the central idea of Bloch’s thought, which got its central impulses from Karl Marx, the Bible and classical German philosophy. In his youth work Geist der Utopie (1918/1923) he introduces the basic concepts of his philosophy, “utopia”, “hope”, and “not-yet-conscious”. Geist der Utopie also contains an extensive section on the philosophy of music, stating that music, in its free expressiveness, is the most utopian and socially conditioned of all fine arts. Bloch continued to write about music in his later works, especially in Erbschaft dieser Zeit (1935) and in his magnum opus entitled Das Prinzip Hoffnung (1954-55).
My aim is to elucidate some of Bloch’s views about music by mirroring them against the introductory section of Das Prinzip Hoffnung. In line with the Marxist idea of rejecting abstract value-neutral research, we can see how Bloch’s concepts of ‘militant optimism’ and ‘utopian function’ not only help us to understand the not-yet-conscious dimension of music but also reveal the essentially activist and engaging significance of music.
Nature was an essential object of Bloch’s philosophical thought. In the end of my paper, I shall try to analyze the present-day implications of his philosophy, especially in questions concerning nature and ecology.
Matti Huttunen, professor emeritus of musical performance and research, studied musicology and philosophy at Turku University, taking his PhD in musicology in 1993. He has also soloist diploma in flute (Sibelius Academy, 1987). He worked as lecturer and senior lecturer of music history at Helsinki Conservatory of Music in 1989-1999 and as professor at the Sibelius Academy from 1997 to his retirement in 2005. Since then he has been part-time lecturer in many institutions, including Oulu University in 2012-2020 and Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki. His main areas of interest are intellectual history, performance studies, and philosophy of music.
Sarah Sauvé, University of Lincoln
How do you solve a problem like capitalism? Capitalism and anti-capitalism in music research
All research is political. This much is clear to feminist, Black, and Indigenous (critical) approaches to science. Music science does not do enough to acknowledge or work to dismantle the systems of oppression such as racial capitalism, heteropatriarchy and colonialism in which it operates.
The aim of this paper is to highlight how systems of oppression (politics) operate in academia, including music science, and to offer alternatives to how we go about doing our research to work against these systems.
In this paper, I draw on a range of feminist, Black and Indigenous literature to offer a non-exhaustive list of individual and systemic actionable changes possible at three points of interactivity with “the system” (here the academy): positions of power inside the system, using the system’s existing mechanisms and working outside the system (CLEAR, 2021; Combahee River Collective, 2017; Federici, 2004; Haraway, 2003; Kelley, 2002; Liboiron, 2021; O’Brien, 1993; Robinson, 2000; Smith, 2013; Tuck & Yang, 2012). Each researcher’s identity affects the questions they ask, the methods they choose and their interpretation of the data; therefore, it is important to disclose identity and context (social, economic, political) along with every piece of research in order to situate the knowledge being created (Haraway, 2003). Some additional strategies discussed include community-based research (Hall & Tandon, 2017), citational politics (Ahmed, 2013), strong objectivity (Harding, 1992) and writing reflexively (Richardson, 2000).
This paper highlights how music science can learn from critical approaches to science, typically located in social science disciplines, to work in anti-oppressive ways. This is especially important for cross-cultural research (Sauvé et al., 2022), but can be applied to all research.
Ahmed, S. (2013). Making feminist points. Feminist Killjoys, 11. https://feministkilljoys.com/2013/09/11/making-feminist-points/
CLEAR. (2021). CLEAR Lab Book: A living manual of our values, guidelines, and protocols, V.03. Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Combahee River Collective. (2017). The Combahee River Collective Statement. In K.-Y. Taylor (Ed.), How we get free (pp. 15–27). Haymarket Books.
Federici, S. (2004). Caliban and the Witch. Autonomedia.
Hall, B. L., & Tandon, R. (2017). Decolonization of knowledge, epistemicide, participatory research and higher education. Research for All. https://doi.org/10.18546/RFA.01.1.02
Haraway, D. (2003). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Turning Points in Qualitative Research: Tying Knots in a Handkerchief, 2003, 21–46.
Harding, S. (1992). Rethinking standpoint epistemology: What is" strong objectivity?". The Centennial Review, 36(3), 437–470.
Kelley, R. D. (2002). Freedom dreams: The black radical imagination. Beacon Press.
Liboiron, M. (2021). Pollution is colonialism. Duke University Press.
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Sauvé, S. A., Phillips, E., Schiefelbein, W., Daikoku, H., Hegde, S., & Moore, S. (2022). Cross-Cultural and Anti-Colonial/Imperial Research: ICMPC-ESCOM 2021 Workshop. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/bt6zn
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Dr. Sarah Sauvé is a music scientist, pianist and activist interested in integrating her activist life and her academic life. She is inspired by feminist, Indigenous and queer science to think about how science can be done in an anti-oppressive way. Dr. Sauvé is from Canada and is currently a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, UK.
Methods of Activism in Research 2
Session 28, Fri 12 May, at 14:00, Topelia: C 120
Eirik Skjelstad, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Between the Binaries: Neptune’s Story
The increasing visibility of non-normative identities is one of the significant cultural and societal developments of the twenty-first century. Music and musical cultures have played a central role in how LGBTQI+ agendas, or queer culture, have gained a greater role in mainstream culture (see Hansen, 2021a, 2021b; Hawkins, 2015). These social developments also influence the current school context because the boundaries between students' leisure and school time are far from being clearly distinct (Dyndahl & Ellefsen, 2009; Folkestad, 2006; Green, 2008). In an ongoing research project I investigate whether there are greater freedom and more opportunities for young people today than in the past to develop and negotiate their (non-)gendered identities considering what is ‘on offer’ in popular culture. Moreover, I am explicitly interested in exploring questions of identity and sense of belonging through the perspective of someone who identifies as gender fluid, or non-binary; an identity position that I will argue does not exist ontologically (cf. Wittig, 1992) and therefore prompts the person to be subjected to epistemic injustice (Fricker, 2007), a form of injustice that can affect individuals’ positions as knowledge-holders and consequently restrict their agency.
This talk will review some of the empirical data from an ongoing study in which I am telling the story of ‘Neptune’, a thirteen-year-old lower secondary student who identifies as non-binary and gender fluid. The data consists of transcribed narrative interviews and will be organized as a narrative study with focus on critical storytelling. Collecting sensitive data from a young vulnerable person belonging to a marginalized group demands an increased researcher reflexivity, and ethical considerations must be made during all research phases.
Eirik Skjelstad (PhD Candidate) holds a master's degree of Didactics of Culture of Language from Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN). In his PhD project he explores LGBTQ expressions in popular culture and its significance in young peoples’ lives from a music educational perspective.
Ieva Gudaityte, University of Oslo
On hosting and being hosted: community music radio research and practice
A question of activist research is inherently a question of methodology. Our care for the world is implicit in our work, or, as Donna Haraway puts it: “It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; […] It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories” (Haraway, 2016, p. 12)
The worlds this paper investigates are those of small-scale independent community radios and the role of broadcaster-researcher-storyteller within them. Embedded in critical histories of sound production, activist broadcasting and DJ culture (Frith, 2002; Lacey, 2013; Sterne, 2003), new generation internet radio stations employ critical discourse strategies in their music curation, linguistic and aesthetic cues and other modus operandi. Whether or not explicitly activist, they serve as spaces for social and political participation and critique, as well as local, accessible, and plural knowledge production.
However, this is not always with an awareness of the previous body of activist work and thought, raising concerns about sustainability of media (activism). As a response, this paper draws from first-hand experiences of broadcasting from several Central and Eastern European community radios, as well as doing more theoretical research with them. It offers the symbolic and physical work of hosting a radio show as a strategy to gather and share mutually beneficial ways of sense-making, ever more urgent in the face of war in Ukraine.
Conceptualising the role of a researcher and practitioner as a host allows an alternative to the dilemma of ethical involvement in the knowledge-making on the field; and provides an example of activist research in the field of music studies. In doing so, it raises several key questions: how can radio practices continue to allow space for plural knowledge exchange? How does that benefit active/ist participation? And, finally, when does knowing prevent us from doing?
Ieva Gudaityte is a recent PhD candidate at the University of Oslo, radio host, writer, and educator. Her current project, “Joyful strategies of participation: the socio-political potential of community music radios” will focus on independent radio stations in Ukraine and elsewhere in the region. She has previously investigated invisible politics of Budapest community radios, which came out recently as a chapter in Mollgaard, M. (Ed.). (2022). Radio at the edges: Perspectives on alternative, community and pirate radio. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Carolin Müller, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Whose Crisis is It? Embodied Resistance and Sonic Warfare
This paper presents a critical reflection on “a battle of speeches, chants and songs” (SAX_Dresden, 2020) that took place in the city of Dresden, Germany, in February 2020 during a rally of the New Right. The attendance of fascist Björn Höcke, who is a member of the right-wing party AFD (Alternative for Germany), brought citizens in support and against to the streets. Opponents perceived Höcke’s speech as the pinnacle of an ongoing political crisis in the city. Höcke’s supporters, however, perceived the event as a triumph. Drawing on fieldwork from the demonstration and media reports surrounding the event, I discuss how Dresdener’s conducted sonic warfare in the streets.
From the perspective of affect theory, this research discusses how the feelings of anger, despair, fear, and exhaustion that mobilized people at the demonstration produced sounded expressions of resistance from both sides in chants, boos, songs, and speeches. I first discuss what happens when sound becomes the vehicle through which a feeling of crisis is communicated. As different feelings about crisis come together at demonstrations, Deborah Gould (2010) convincingly argues, their meaning is translated into reduced sonic expressions. I discuss how like-minded protestors join provisional sound collectives to get a political message across.
Further, I examine what happens when different sonifications of crisis clash in street protest. With attention to “the bodily, visceral qualities of feelings” (Gould, 2010, p. 26), I discuss the effects of perceived crises that produced a sounded political battlefield. The ways in which protestors created sound opportunities speaks to the sensory intensity of the demonstration. The battle of sound and music not only stimulated protest, it stimulated new modes in which protest took place in the moment and thereafter. Increased sensory stimulation caused a political aftermath. Rights-based arguments questioned the validity of specific sounds at demonstrations, raising issues of artistic freedom.
Carolin Müller is a postdoctoral fellow at the Martin Buber Society in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has held positions at the Technische Universität Dresden and at the Central European University. She earned her PhD in German Studies from the Ohio State University and her dissertation investigated creative acts of citizenship-making through street music, music education, and music as a form of cultural diplomacy in Germany. Her work on the German musician ensemble Banda Comunale/Internationale has allowed here to investigate music’s role in contemporary activism against right-wing groups and contributed to renewed understandings of the representation of music in activist, social and political discourses, as well as the function of music in negotiating the politics of migrancy in contemporary Germany.