The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

November 17, 2014
by nchana

Thursday, November 20 – Thomas Hilder

Please join us for our penultimate meeting of the Autumn Quarter. This Thursday, we’re excited to welcome Thomas Hilder for a presentation entitled  “Sámi Musical Performance, Indigeneity, Cosmopolitanism.” (Please see below for Thomas’ abstract and bio).

As always, we will meet from 4:30-6:00pm in Goodspeed 205. We look very much forward to seeing you!


My paper explores the politics of cosmopolitanism in musical performance of the Sámi of northern Europe. Through a post-WWII political and cultural movement, the Sámi have highlighted their history of Christianisation, land dispossession and cultural assimilation, whilst working towards Sámi political self-determination within and across the Nordic states and Russian Kola Peninsula. Participation by Sámi activists, academics and artists at international indigenous meetings since the 1960s not only helped strengthen articulations of indigeneity at home, but also led to the Sámi playing an important role in campaigning for global indigenous rights (Minde 2008, 1996). Sámi musical performance, often drawing on the distinct unaccompanied vocal practice of joik, has strengthened political articulations, assisted wider cultural revival, as well as facilitated inter-indigenous cultural and political exchange.

Based on multi-sited ethnographic research, I will explore the challenges, potentials and contradictions of Sámi musical cosmopolitanism. Firstly, I investigate the participation by Sámi joikers at international indigenous meetings and the impact of these inter-indigenous encounters on Sámi musical performance. I then analyse the Sámi singer Mari Boine to unearth the ways in which aesthetic and political indigenous solidarity has been articulated. Finally, I examine the role of the Riddu Riđđu Indigenous Peoples’ Festival in forging a global indigenous network. By drawing on political and postcolonial theory (Ivison, Patton & Sanders 2000), and the literature of cosmopolitanism (Delanty 2009; Forte 2010; Feld 2012) I ask: how might Sámi musical performance propose alternative models for transnational collaboration and geo-political organisation?


Thomas Hilder is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for World Music, University of Hildesheim, after having completed his PhD in ethnomusicology at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2010. His main research area is the popular music of the Sámi, of northern Europe, with a particular interest in postcolonialism, digital media and transnationalism. He is author of the forthcoming monograph Sámi Musical Performance and the Politics of Indigeneity in Northern Europe (Rowman and Littlefield), and is co-editor of the book projects Music, Indigeneity, Digital Media and Music and Cultural Memory in Post-1989 Europe: Sounding Contested Past(s). In addition, he teaches courses on Nordic music, music and politics, and music and gender at the University of Hildesheim and Humboldt University, Berlin, he co-organises the annual doctoral workshop in ethnomusicology at the Center for World Music, and co-runs the Berlin ethnomusicology research group BEAM.

November 2, 2014
by nchana

Thursday, November 6 – SEM Dry Runs (Part 2)

Please join us for the second of two workshops in which students will present their conference papers in preparation for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference. This Thursday, we’re excited to hear Meredith Aska McBride, and Michael O’Toole. (Please see the abstracts below).

As always, we will meet from 4:30-6:00pm in Goodspeed 205. We look very much forward to seeing you!


Single Moms and Tiger Moms: the Politics of Parenting in Chicago’s Music Education Programs (Meredith Aska McBride)

This presentation explores the contested politics of parenting in Chicago’s music education programs. I examine two competing, and equally imagined, parental models implied by different types of programs: the low-income “single mom” who is unable to meet her children’s educational and developmental needs, and the affluent, hyper-competitive “tiger mom” who uses music education as one weapon in an arsenal of intensive parenting tools. Both of these models are, of course, inaccurate in various ways and are gendered, raced, and classed. My paper explores how these models shape program design, funding, and curriculum and the ways in which parents, students, and program staff work within and against these parental specters. I further connect these politics of parenting to ongoing public and academic discourses of urban citizenship.


“My personal longing to tell this story”: Anatolian Music and Armenian Silence in Marc Sinan’s Hasretim: An Anatolian Journey (Michael O’Toole)

Since the early twentieth century, composers of western art music in Turkey and its diasporas have frequently drawn on the diverse musics of Anatolia as a source of musical material and inspiration. Composers in the early years of the Turkish Republic often regarded the diversity of Anatolian musics as a problem to be overcome in creating a national school of composition. More recently, several composers have more explicitly embraced the pluralism inherent in the cultural, linguistic, and musical diversity of Anatolia. In this paper, I discuss the work of Marc Sinan, a German composer of Armenian and Turkish descent, who has engaged in several ways with Anatolian musics as a source of creative material, compositional inspiration, and transnational collaboration. I focus in particular on Sinan’s 2010 multimedia composition Hasretim: An Anatolian Journey, which involves multiple forms of collaboration between musicians in Armenia, Germany, and Turkey. Drawing on discussions with the composer, fieldwork at the debut performance in Dresden, and analysis of the concert film released by ECM, I discuss Sinan’s strategies for representing the presence and absence of Armenian music and culture in Anatolia, and how Sinan relates Hasretim to his own experiences as a descendent of survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Situating my analysis in ethnomusicological discussions of music and trauma, I discuss the ways in which Sinan creatively reworked his own ethnographic recordings of Anatolian musicians, shaping the images, sounds, and narratives of Hasretim to represent Anatolia as a site of both musical abundance and musical loss.