Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1600 20211120T1650 America/Chicago Challenging Neoliberal and Settler-Colonial Paradigms AMS 2021
Intercultural Analysis as Border Thinking
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 22:50:00 UTC

This paper outlines a framework for intercultural analysis that challenges the Eurocentric systems of knowledge production in U.S./Canadian music theory. As the discipline reckons with its history of racial and gendered exclusion (Ewell 2020; Hisama 2021), I posit that music theorists must also reflect on the ethics of studying non-Western musics within a predominantly white and Euroamerican discipline. I argue that, in addition to broadening the repertoires included in music theoretical research, U.S.- and Canada-based scholars must interrogate the power imbalances perpetuated through their academic work.

I first contend that North American music theory has minoritized non-Western knowledge even as the field has expanded its analytical canon beyond Western art music. I identify two domains in which the logic of coloniality is most salient within music theoretical discourse. First, music theory privileges Western epistemologies over those of the non-West, instituting racial hierarchies that have relegated non-Western cultures to providers, rather than producers, of knowledge. Second, music theory has championed modern imperial languages of Europe-English, French, and German-over non-European languages (Mignolo 2011). In challenging the Eurocentric epistemological and linguistic foundations of music theory, I build on Patricia Hill Collins's (1990) and bell hooks's (1989) critiques of institutionalized modes of knowledge production in the academy. I specifically situate my framework of intercultural analysis within Collins's feminist standpoint theory to emphasize the partiality of all music theoretical knowledge.

I then propose intercultural analysis as a strategy for decentering the dominance of Western music theoretical knowledge. My analytical orientation follows Walter Mignolo's theory of border thinking (2000), which subverts the mythical universality of Western knowledge by situating Western and non-Western modes of thinking as equally viable options. Through a critique of the current epistemic structures of the discipline, I demonstrate how intercultural analysis can broaden the purview of what counts as music theory. Furthermore, by accepting hegemonic and subalternized epistemologies as equally valid ways of understanding music, intercultural analysis as border thinking allows us to envision a field in which music theoretical knowledge can be produced in both the West and the non-West. 

Toru Momii
Jacobs School Of Music At Indiana University
Marxist music studies in the neoliberal academy
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 22:50:00 UTC

Tension between social justice narratives that emphasize the politics of difference and Marxist economic analysis has become especially heightened in the neoliberal era (Power 2009, Melamed 2011, Mojab 2015). In Anglophone humanities scholarship, this is evident in debates that pit Foucauldian discourse analysis against Marxist materialism, or individual subjectivity against social structures. In music studies, this tension comes to the fore in recent literature that contends that the discipline's dominant focus on the politics of difference signals complicity with neoliberalism (Currie 2009, 2012; Harper-Scott 2012, 2020; Blake 2017). Following a theoretical thread that links the politics of difference to postmodernism and in turn to neoliberalism, James Currie characterizes the question of identity and difference that consumed the new musicology of the 1990s - and continues to do so today - as 'a politically flavored distraction that potentially enabled politics in its proper transformative sense _not_ to happen' (2012, xiii). Here, the politics of difference is relegated to the realm of discourse, preoccupied with individual subjectivity rather than holistic structures. 

Developing on this work while critiquing some of its claims, my paper challenges the notion of 'transformative' political work by exploring the relationships between structure and subjectivity, materialism and discourse, in current music studies. As a case study, I focus on material conditions for university teaching staff working within increasingly neoliberal structures. Recent data on pay and conditions for casualized teaching staff in British, Irish and North American music departments reveal exploitative and precarious working conditions, resulting in both subjective and structural violence for staff members. Critiquing the working conditions of music departmental staff constitutes a starting point for developing a Marxist music studies that combines a focus on the individual subject with overarching economic structures. I argue that contemporary music studies' complicity with neoliberalism lies not in its preoccupation with the politics of difference, but in its exploitative and unsustainable employment practices. A truly progressive music studies, as demonstrated in recent work by Thompson (2020) and Baron (2019), must seek to resist neoliberal academic structures while engaging equally with Marxism and the politics of difference, structure and subjectivity.

Rachel McCarthy
Goldsmiths, University Of London
Reconciling cultural extraction
Individual Paper 04:00 PM - 04:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 22:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 22:50:00 UTC

Questions of resource access and ownership lie at the heart of many settler-native disputes. Although the buzzword of postcolonial agendas in contemporary Canada, 'reconciliation' of inequities may neither be possible nor desirable for individuals and communities marked by decades (if not centuries) of cultural extractivism. For Michi Saagigg Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson, resource extraction threatens not only lands, but entire lifeways of indigenous peoples, making 'reconciliation' another place for potential assimilation. In considering Simpson's distrust of extraction from a cultural perspective, this paper examines the multimedia work 'extraction' created by a team led by landscape architect Pierre Bélanger, exposing its expression of an alternative, collaborative space that revitalizes rather than subsumes indigenous practices. For this, I consider 'extraction' within a framework of collaborative creation suggested by Opaskwayak Cree Scholar Shawn Wilson that encourages respectful curiosity, acceptance of non-separation, and valuing of reciprocity in research that allows us to explore the exhibit as a space for 'learning together'. As an expression of cross-cultural interests and considering its central texts, 'extraction' participates in cultural extractivism, but with an intention to empower indigenous communities by suturing together 'extracted' resources from historical and socially diverse collections and multiple media formats, reconnecting them in a way that reflects the respect, non-separation, and reciprocity of Wilson's framework. Viewed through Simpson's lens of 'resurgence', 'extraction' magnifies socio-cultural, political, and environmental impacts of resource extraction while also acknowledging indigenous agency, blatantly placing its voice alongside the images, texts, audio-visual materials, media, and individuals co-present in the exhibit.

Presenters Mary Ingraham
University Of Lethbridge
University of Lethbridge
Goldsmiths, University of London
Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University
University of North Texas
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