The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

Thursday 21 November – Jessica Roda, Ph.D (postdoctoral researcher – Canadian Research Chair of Urban Heritage – UQAM)

Dear All,

Please join us and our guest speaker for this fascinating paper


GOH 205

Refreshments provided!


“Patrimonialization as a mean for identity building: the experience of Judeo-Spanish musical practice”


In any process of constructing a nation, understood as the nation-state or as imagined communities (Anderson 2006), the patrimonialization of objects andor practices is indispensable. patrimonialization helps the community to support the construction of its national identity by establishing clearly recognizable elements, such as symbols, history, music, language, etc. Thus, it is a process of making an inventory of the society, selecting, materializing, and finally institutionalizing these objects and practices to transform them into patrimony, which then become the carrier of national identity.

At the beginning of the 20th century, during the Ottoman Empire crisis, the Jews of the region, mainly Judeo-Spanish, began to construct an identity in order to singularize themselves from the future national majority, a process for which patrimonialization was a central tool. Proverbs, beliefs, history, and musical practices were patrimonialized and identified as representative of the Judeo-Spanish identity. In the case of musical practices, the music became a dominating identity flag that survives until today, visible on several international stages. How was such a process effectuated?  How and why did the music acquire such a prestigious position?

In this communication, I will highlight the means developed by the Judeo-Spanish to constitute their musical heritage that will identify the Judeo-Spanish identity. In other words, I am proposing a track response to the problem of the definition of this music and the way it was established. From this historic glance, I will emphasize the current contextual significance of the process, which is marked by the considerable rise of “world music” on an international scale.


Jessica Roda received her Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from the Université de Montréal and in Musicology from the Université Paris-Sorbonne (2012). As anthropologist and ethnomusicologist specialized in Jewish culture, her dissertation concerns the construction of Judeo-Spanish musical heritage in France. She currently part-time instructor at the department of urban and tourism studies (UQAM), and is a postdoctoral researcher with the Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage (UQAM) where she works on the representation of Jewishness in Montreal’s public space. Roda is also the French review editor of the Canadian peer-reviewed journal MUSICultures. She is an active member of several societies, publishes regularly in academic journals and collected works, and participates in conferences in academic, cultural, and popular circles.

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