EthNoise!

The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

November 26, 2016
by Leitner
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12/1: Ameera Nimjee

Please join us on Thursday December 1st from 4.30-6pm in Goodspeed 205. PhD Candidate Ameera Nimjee will share a chapter from her dissertation, entitled “Into the Photographic Studio: Locating Contemporaneity in Visual Cultures”. Anna Seastrand, Collegiate Professor in the Humanities Core, will provide a response to Ameera’s presentation. Please note: a password protected copy of her chapter is available here; contact mleitner@uchicago.edu for the password if you will be attending. You are encouraged to read the full chapter, but welcome to attend regardless!

“Into the Photographic Studio: Locating Contemporaneity in Visual Cultures”

This chapter is a close study of an album of Indian studio photographs, compiled sometime around 1910. The “courtesan album,” to which it has become referred, features 146 cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards, taken between 1870 and 1910. Contained in the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM’s) Jhabvala Collection of Photography, the sitters in the portraits are mostly Indian courtesans, who were professional entertainers in the intimate spaces of their salons and in courts, performing forms of music and dance for elite Indian audiences. While the album commemorates these women and their occupations as entertainers, it was compiled at a time of their systemic decline in Indian history. Courtesans were symbols of a pre-colonial and
pre-modern cultural practice, in which elite forms of entertainment existed with some proximity to sex work. 2007-17-1-2As the official period of British colonialism began in 1857, British administrators and British-educated Indian intellectuals alike advocated for the “anti-nautch movement,” which sought to remove the patronage of this kind of entertainment in India. The ROM’s courtesan album offers a counter-narrative to this movement, inciting a discussion on photographic reality and these women as contributors to the modern invention of Indian classical dance. I mobilize the album in the broader context of my dissertation to show that the album challenges the genre category Indian contemporary dance by reconsidering what it means to be and become contemporary in music and dance. 

November 15, 2016
by Leitner
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11/18: Prof Kimberly Cannady (Victoria University, NZ)

On Friday November 18, we welcome Prof Kimberly Cannady to EthNoise. She joins us from Victoria University, New Zealand. Please support our distinguished guest in Goodspeed 205 from 4-5.30pm. A pay-your-way dinner will follow, to which all are welcome!

The Polar Bear’s Stomach: The Greenlandic Drum in Post-Colonial Nuuk

For many Greenlanders, especially those based in the capital city of Nuuk, the frame drum (qilaat) is more likely to be seen as a wall decoration than as a viable musical instrument. This has been the case now for multiple generations, but things are changing with the emergence of local and nation-wide initiatives to spread the music and dance of the drum into everyday life. In this research I introduce a group of Nuuk based Inuit musicians working to revitalize the drum as a viable musical instrument while also negotiating its role in legacies of colonialism, cultural imperialism, and Christianization. At the same time, global climate change poses new challenges for access to traditional material for drum making and the larger Inuit cosmological context. Through this work, I explore the importance of self-determination in revitalization efforts, as well as the relationships between such efforts and ongoing cultural decolonization in a new age of Arctic exploration & exploitation.

In this workshop, I look forward to sharing this article-in-progress with you (following the presentation of a shorter version at SEM last week). I am particularly eager to discuss the ethics of this research, approaches to incorporating indigenous methodologies and perspectives in critical ethnographic writing, as well as the overall progress of the material as an article.

cannady_photo

Bio

Dr Kimberly Cannady teaches ethnomusicology at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She completed her PhD at the University of Washington in 2014. Her research interests include indigenous music in the Arctic, as well as popular and traditional music making in Iceland and the larger Nordic region. She is also involved in a range of research projects working with music and new refugee resettlement efforts in Aotearoa New Zealand.

November 2, 2016
by Leitner
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11/17: Prof Gabriel Solis (UIUC)

Mark your calendars! We are excited to welcome Prof Gabriel Solis from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on November 17 from 4.30-6pm in Goodspeed 205. He will be presenting his latest research entitled “‘It’s Always in Flux, Always Fleeting’: Hip-Jazz, Afrofuturism, and the Challenge of Understanding Popular Music Beyond the Bounds of Genre.” Please find the abstract below. A pay-your-way dinner for will follow at a local restaurant; RSVP to mleitner@uchicago.edu if you wish to attend the dinner.

Please circulate this announcement widely; all are welcome and refreshments will be served.

“‘It’s Always in Flux, Always Fleeting’: Hip-Jazz, Afrofuturism, and the Challenge of Understanding Popular Music Beyond the Bounds of Genre.”

Jazz has been in dialogue with other forms of African American popular music for virtually all of its history, and its audiences have generally listened to it alongside those other forms.  Nonetheless, jazz has also regularly separated itself from the rest of the popular tradition, a gesture of aesthetic distinction that has been supported by a purist strain in music criticism and fandom.  This talk looks at this enduring issue through the work of three Los Angeles-based artists who draw on the legacy of hip hop, fusion jazz, and the jazz avant garde of the 1970s: Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, and Robert Glasper.  Drawing on theories from ethnomusicology, Afro-futurism, and science and technology studies, I ask what we might learn about genre in African American music traditions and the stakes of distinction for musicians today.  I turn briefly at the end to a discussion of contemporary approaches to genre analysis in the field of Digital Humanities, asking how might we leverage emerging methodologies to bring research and practice closer together in jazz studies and how the music might direct us toward better methodologies in the new digital scholarship.

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