Check-in
Roundtable | Professional Development
Nov 11, 2021 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1400 20211111T1450 America/Chicago Beyond Objectivity: Embracing Activism in Scholarship and Teaching

Many music researchers are working hard to diversify and decolonize their curricula and research outputs, and to encourage broader representation in our field. This panel argues that this work alone, while important, will not make musicology an equitable and ethical practice. At a time when humanity faces many challenges, we ask when and how it is appropriate for musicologists to become activists, putting our skills to work in collaboration with students and research partners to create equitable and liberatory communities.

These ethical questions inevitably present a threat to the longstanding ideal of objectivity in scholarship in the West. Yet in recent decades, scholars from many disciplines have demonstrated the socially constructed and controlled nature of academic knowledge. They have shown how the myth of objectivity serves to dismiss and harm people who belong to different epistemological communities. In theorizing why oppressed communities might want to refuse participation in academic research, Tuck/Yang (2014) wrote that, in academia, "The Subaltern can speak, but is only invited to speak her/our pain." This pain provides data for academic research, but there is little space in academic knowledge for solutions that are based on community knowledge. Similarly, Brown/Strega (2005) wrote, "Notions of anti-oppression become distorted and relegated to discussions of ethical treatment but otherwise kept separate from research 'realities.'"

The five panelists come from different music studies subdisciplines, and have experiences taking activist approaches to music's engagements with race, trauma, sexual assault, and forced migration. The roundtable will begin with brief personal statements, describing the ways we h ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org


Many music researchers are working hard to diversify and decolonize their curricula and research outputs, and to encourage broader representation in our field. This panel argues that this work alone, while important, will not make musicology an equitable and ethical practice. At a time when humanity faces many challenges, we ask when and how it is appropriate for musicologists to become activists, putting our skills to work in collaboration with students and research partners to create equitable and liberatory communities.

These ethical questions inevitably present a threat to the longstanding ideal of objectivity in scholarship in the West. Yet in recent decades, scholars from many disciplines have demonstrated the socially constructed and controlled nature of academic knowledge. They have shown how the myth of objectivity serves to dismiss and harm people who belong to different epistemological communities. In theorizing why oppressed communities might want to refuse participation in academic research, Tuck/Yang (2014) wrote that, in academia, "The Subaltern can speak, but is only invited to speak her/our pain." This pain provides data for academic research, but there is little space in academic knowledge for solutions that are based on community knowledge. Similarly, Brown/Strega (2005) wrote, "Notions of anti-oppression become distorted and relegated to discussions of ethical treatment but otherwise kept separate from research 'realities.'"

The five panelists come from different music studies subdisciplines, and have experiences taking activist approaches to music's engagements with race, trauma, sexual assault, and forced migration. The roundtable will begin with brief personal statements, describing the ways we have attempted to advocate for and directly benefit members of the oppressed communities with which we research and/or teach. We will then move into a discussion with those in attendance on such questions as:

  • How can scholars help to bring about social change in a responsible way?

  • What lessons can musicologists learn from action-based research used by ethnomusicologists, social scientists and public historians?

  • How can we form equitable partnerships with community organizations and pursue activism without colonialism?

  • What should the goals of an activist, equitable and accessible music curriculum be?

  • How should we disseminate information and awareness about trauma-informed curricula and pedagogy?


Merritt College
Western University
Music of Asian America Research Center
Dartmouth College
Indiana University
No moderator for this session!
No attendee has checked-in to this session!
Upcoming Sessions (Local time)