One-day Ethnomusicology AND Policy conference, 2015.

British Forum for Ethnomusicology One-day Conference 2015 
‘Ethnomusicology and Policy’
International Centre for Music Studies (ICMuS), Newcastle University.
Date: Saturday 31st October 2015
Ethnomusicology holds an extended and substantial history of engagement with, and contribution to, public policy. This conference acknowledges that history, and points to the growing role ethnomusicology plays in influencing how public policies are considered, constructed and revised. It emphasises the potentials and challenges in applied ethnomusicology, and encourages further dialogue around how ethnomusicology contributes to the public good. Ethnomusicologists have made substantive contributions to policy in areas such as Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), archiving and curation, cultural policy and the state, cultural tourism, music education, social enterprise, music and conflict, cultural and economic sustainability, world music representation and education, music and minorities, and the economics and instrumental efficacy of the arts at all levels of governance. Many ethnomusicologists who work in this area and in the public sector also have hybrid identities, and often publish in sociological and anthropological journals and author policy reports. We intend to explore the character of policy-focused ethnomusicology and its disciplinary position within the broader arts and humanities. Ethnomusicology has been more firmly embedded in public policy in the North American context and this conference provides an opportunity to discuss the similarities and differences with that of the UK and EU policy environments, and how these might be improved in the future. Therefore we are interested in opening up a debate about how policy relates both to ethnomusicological methods, interdisciplinary and international ethnomusicology as well as the ethnomusicologist’s place in public sector and government. We hope also to discuss these issues with a view to expanding where and how the next generation of ethnomusicologists might work, be trained, and how the academy should be responding to this challenge today. Papers are encouraged in all these areas of ethnomusicological endeavour and in the relations between policy and ethnomusicological research and training. 
KeynotNaila Ceribašiće Speaker: Professor Naila Ceribašić is one of the leading scholars of music and policy in Europe today. She is a full titular Professor of the Institue of Ethnology and Folklore Research in Zagreb where she has worked for over 20 years. She received the “Milovan Gavazzi” Award from the Croatian Ethnological Society in 2003 for the book Hrvatsko, seljačko, starinsko i domaće: Povijest i etnografija javne prakse narodne glazbe u Hrvatskoj (Croatian, peasant, old and local: History and ethnography of the public practice of folk music in Croatia). In addition to this she has published in many languages, well in excess of 100 journal papers. She has been the serving representative of ICTM at UNESCO since 2012 and is an expert member of the various policy focused committees for the Croatian government as well as appearing on television on numerous occasions to provide expert opinion on traditional music and cultural heritage. We are delighted to host her at Newcastle where she will present our keynote lecture on the theme of ‘ethnomusicology and policy’.
Keynote Abstract
Policy in the field: New perspectives for engagement in ethnomusicology
In the 1990s, and well into the 2000s ethnomusicologists, particularly those in the West, were dedicated to forging dialogue with the people they studied and to find methods of avoiding any representational shadow they might create along the path from experiential fieldwork to authorial publication. Concomitantly, the more fieldwork collaborators turned into partners or friends, the stronger the urge to ensure their wellbeing and for advocacy of their interests in broader socio-political and cultural fields. The rise of applied ethnomusicology testifies to this development. However, its analytical and activist endeavors are mainly directed into and within communities concerned –  particularly in terms of the advancement of collaborative methodologies and community engagement, whilst the structures of power – such as state and local governments, funding agencies and similar entities in charge of the creation and implementation of cultural policies – have remained undertheorized and underconceptualized. This occurs often in contexts where a dislocated and powerful elite is unfavourable if not hostile towards the communities with whom we study and collaborate. This methodological cozy consensus that ignores the larger and often unarticulated power relations, is of limited use. Ethnomusicologists could do more good by directing their research attention to detailed examination of policy-making processes, with all their internal dynamics, fluidity, evolving nature, human agency and good (enough) intentions, and on the other side by not shrinking from engaging directly in such processes, as well as from reflecting overtly on such engagements in the public domain. My rationale is informed by affiliation with post-socialist, Southeastern European ethnomusicology, notably Croatian, which incorporates a long history of engagement in public policy, the doubts emanating from such a position, as well as from war experience and inter-ethnic conflicts during the 1990s, the predominance of an ethnomusicology at home, and the challenges of European integration. In addition, it is informed by my more recent involvement in UNESCO-led program of intangible cultural heritage in general, and the representation of International Council for Traditional Music in the Evaluation Body of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in particular. All these aspects play a role in my thesis and will be discussed in this keynote presentation. The title is by way of a variation from a seminal ethnomusicological publication, indicating that today’s principal shadows pertain to the issue of cultural policy and the increasingly urgent methodological imperatives facing ethnomusicologists.

Conference Schedule (31/07/2015):


9:30am Conference registration and welcome
10am Ethnomusicologal interventions Dr Janice Haworth

(Bemidji State University)

‘Drumming in a Cultural Context:  From Notational Architect to Ethnomusicologist.’
10:30am Dr Nanette de Jong

(Newcastle University)

Southern African Cultural Leadership: The Mechanics of Strengthening Africa’s Cultural Sectors
11am Dr Kathleen Van Buren

(University of Sheffield)

‘Training applied ethnomusicologists: A need, a model, a challenge.’
11:30am BREAK
11:45am Music & Torture Dr Katia Chornik (University of Manchester) & Manuel Guerrero (University of Chile) ‘Music and Torture: Reciprocal Effects of Research and Local Legislation in Chile.’
12:15pm Dr Morag J. Grant (Käte Hamburger Centre of Advanced Study “Law as Culture”, University of Bonn) ‘Preventing the use of music to torture: From research to policy.’
12:45pm LUNCH
1:30pm Professor Naila Ceribašić KEYNOTE: ‘Policy in the field: New perspectives for engagement in ethnomusicology’
2:15pm BREAK
2:30pm Epistemologies Dr Muriel E. Swijghuisen Reigersberg (Goldsmiths) ‘Academic and Administrative Hybridity: The Ethnomusicologist as a Higher Education Policy Maker in the UK.’
3pm Prof. Dr. Ulrich Morgenstern (Institut für Volksmusikforschung und Ethnomusikologie, Vienna) ‘Folk music research, ethnomusicology and politics: a European perspective.’
3:30pm National policy Naomi Bath (PhD candidate, Royal Holloway) ‘Folk music and cultural policy in Hungary today’
4pm Dr Simon McKerrell (Newcastle University) ‘Traditional music and cultural sustainability in Scotland’
4:30pm BREAK
4:45pm The traditional arts in Scotland: an emerging policy context David Francis (Musician & Executive Officer of the Traditional Music Forum) ‘An Emerging Policy Context for the Traditional Arts in Scotland.’
5:15pm Steve Byrne (University of Edinburgh) ‘Local Voices: Re-contextualising Digital Archive Resources.’
5:45pm Dr Mairi McFadyen (University of Edinburgh) ‘Hiding in Plain Sight is a Much Larger Story.’




Conference committee: Dr Simon McKerrell, Dr Noel Lobley, Dr Nanette De Jong, Mr Darren Fenn.
Papers are 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion. In addition to individual papers, suggestions for panel topics are welcome. Panels exploring a particular issue around the theme are encouraged, and these would receive one hour including paper presentations and discussion. 
The conference is supported by Newcastle University. For more information see the BFE website (
Newcastle University

Janice Haworth (Bemidji State University)

Drumming in a Cultural Context:  From Notational Architect to Ethnomusicologist

 A U.S. Fulbright Scholarship took the author to the West African country of Guinea with plans to teach, to learn to play the drums, and to notate the rhythms for heritage and teaching purposes.  The adventure of living in a village for two years along with daily lessons on the djembe and dundun ended up teaching her about music, about rhythm, and about life.  At its core, these were questions of notation:  Can we write down these rhythms?  Should we write down the rhythms?  And what is our role as western musicians when we encounter music from an oral tradition?  From her experiences, the Guinean people were amazed that she was interested in their old, traditional music.  But they loved the idea of focused listening and analysis and they began to realize that what makes their music unique and important for other cultures also makes it important for themselves. Using field recordings and a spatially-based circular notation with bottle caps this is a transformation story of music and its international impact and possibilities.


Nanette de Jong (Newcastle University)

Southern African Cultural Leadership: The Mechanics of Strengthening Africa’s Cultural Sectors

Poverty, HIV/AIDS and gender inequality threaten human and economic development in Southern Africa; no other region has HIV prevalence rates as high or with such a disproportionate effect on impoverished women and youth.  Southern African Cultural Leadership (SACL) is a EU-funded cultural development programme that, working through music and other arts, is impacting tangibly on this situation. Established in 2012, it is contributing to the eradication of poverty, inequality and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa by strengthening the cultural sector and providing training and employment programmes, leadership workshops, socially-facing conferences and a number of research projects.  As an ethnomusicologist, who also served as principal investigator on this grant, I use this presentation to introduce SACL and to discuss some of the ways ethnomusicology can be relied on to identify and implement strategies for strengthening and formalising the cultural sector in Southern Africa.  

Kathleen Van Buren (University of Sheffield)

Training applied ethnomusicologists: A need, a model, a challenge

Recent writings in applied ethnomusicology suggest that ethnomusicologists can have a role in contributing to the “public good.” While a number of scholars have documented their experiences in articles and edited volumes, there are no step-by-step training materials available for use in the classroom or public sector and there are few materials easily accessible to the general public. I argue that there is a critical need for additional resources to help current and emerging ethnomusicologists plan projects and reflect upon ethical and practical issues which may arise in carrying out these projects. Furthermore, I suggest that such materials should be accessible not only to scholars, but also to community members who may wish to promote the arts. I then introduce one such resource in progress, provisionally called Make Arts for a Better Life: A Guide for Working in Communities (co-authored with Brian Schrag). This Guide provides a breakdown of seven steps which can help individuals and communities to gain a better understanding of their arts (music, drama, dance, oral verbal arts, and visual arts) and to develop arts projects with practical aims: (1) Meet a community and its arts; (2) Specify goals; (3) Select effects, content, genre, and events; (4) Analyze an event; (5) Spark creativity; (6) Improve new works; and (7) Integrate and celebrate for continuity. The Guide offer examples of how the arts are being used globally to address identity and sustainability, health and well-being, and human rights. In my paper, I include one case study, but argue that community members should consider their own visions for a better future when identifying their goals and developing new programs. Finally, I consider some of the ethical and practical challenges involved in developing and disseminating such a resource.


Katia Chornik (University of Manchester) & Manuel Guerrero (University of Chile)

Music and Torture: Reciprocal Effects of Research and Local Legislation in Chile

As part of our ethnomusicological (Chornik) and applied ethics (Guerrero) research, we have interviewed victims and perpetrators of torture who have referred to the detention system’s utilization of music upon prisoners. Although interviewees have identified physical and psychological damage as a result of misuses of music, they have most generally failed to recognize that this may be classed as torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CID). We argue that this lack of recognition is linked to the lack of typification of torture in Chile, and to the fact that Chile has still not updated its internal legislation despite having signed (1987) and ratified (1988) the UN Convention against Torture (1984), in which nations agreed to eradicate torture, to investigate and punish perpetrators, and to provide compensation to victims. This paper addresses the reciprocal effects of research and policy, drawing on international and local legislation, and our research practice. In particular, the paper discusses (i) how the limited definitions used by local truth commissions have shaped victims’ own understandings of what is and is not torture, (ii) the potential role of ethnomusicology, linked to the moral consideration of victims, in helping policy makers to typify and update the internal legislation against torture and other forms of CID, in Chile and other countries, and (iii) the potential role of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology in drawing the wider public’s attention to ill uses of music, and in exerting changes in policy, following the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Position Statement on Torture (2007).


Morag. J. Grant (Käte Hamburger Centre of Advanced Study “Law as Culture”, University of Bonn)

Preventing the use of music to torture: From research to policy

The extensive and sometimes systematic use of music in torture has been highlighted in a number of recent publications, including case studies on Greece, Chile, the USA and the “Third Reich”. Further publications have explored the longer history of this phenomenon, and made initial recommendations regarding the implications of this research for the prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of survivors. In this paper I will briefly summarise the nature and scale of the problem of music torture, before exploring how musicological research is contributing to our understanding of the forms it can take and the impacts it can have. In particular, theories and methodologies which go beyond standard tropes of music-as-heard and music-as-art, focusing instead on music as a communicative system for expressing power relationships, are vital for understanding how music is implicated in torture. Methodologies are important here as well: research approaches which centre on survivor testimony reveal much about people’s experiences of detention, and the interrelationship of various forms of ill-treatment can only truly be appreciated by taking such first-hand reports seriously. In conclusion, I will discuss the implications of this research and its findings for developing policy and best practice guidelines for the criminal justice system and human rights actors, specifically with regards to monitoring detention facilities and training of members of the security forces and prison staff.

Muriel E Swijghuisen Reigersberg (Goldsmiths’ University of London, Music, Mind and Brain Centre, Psychology Department & Research Office)

Academic and Administrative Hybridity: The Ethnomusicologist as a Higher Education Policy Maker in the UK

This paper explores the positive contributions that ethnomusicologists can make to the development of administrative policy and procedure within UK higher education institutions (HEIs). I will argue that ethnomusicology’s unique character as an interdiscipline places its researchers at an advantage, over those colleagues who work in less hybrid fields. Ethnomusicology’s unique combination of foci which embrace, amongst other things: practice-based research, the arts, social sciences and humanities (AHSS) as well as now cognitive and health research models allow for its specialists to engage constructively with higher education policy and debate within their institutions, which tend to be better suited to science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. I will base my argument on examples gleaned through practice-based experience and research at Goldsmiths’, University of London. Goldsmiths’ is a research intensive University specialising in AHSS research. In my capacity as research development officer and visiting fellow I am heavily involved in developing ethically informed research data management strategies, open access policy and ethical review processes and staff and student training. My role is to ensure all these are responsive to both external compliance requirements as well as the academically-led, subject and project specific needs of AHSS researchers. The collaboratively developed approaches to AHSS research management I then disseminate through (inter) national networks such as the Association for Research Managers and Administrators and in some cases the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce). I will explore why and how ethnomusicologists might engage in similar ways with their own institutions, in order to ensure that UK Higher Education policy remains responsive to ethnomusicology’s discipline-specific needs. Lastly, I shall show that learned societies such as BFE have an increasingly important role to play in the formation of HEI policy, and offer examples as to how this might be done.

Ulrich Morgenstern (Institut für Volksmusikforschung und Ethnomusikologie, Vienna)

Folk Music Research, Ethnomusicology and Politics. A European Perspective.

Scholarship and policy can be interlinked for different reasons and in different ways. Sometimes scholars have strong political convictions they never express in their writing. Sometimes political manifestations appear as implicit attitudes but also as guidelines of individual scholars and even of entire disciplinary fields. In the history of folk music research, comparative musicology and ethnomusicology most different political directions have been expressed: anti-colonialism (Herder) nationalism (as national romanticism or chauvinism), liberal anti-chauvinism, Marxism-Leninism, regressive anti-capitalism (anti-modernism), National Socialism, and, particularly in English-speaking ethnomusicology, Western neo-Marxism, postcolonialism, and feminism. Implicitly in early comparative musicology (Stafford, Fetis), scholarly interest in the musics of the world (and even admiration to them) was interwoven with colonialist concepts of Western superiority. From early 20th century metaphors and different concepts of environmentalism (“ecology of culture”) shaped large parts of folk music discourse. European folk music research and ethnomusicology have been productive, with regard to theory and method, when their leading figures ignored political and ideological claims. By contrast, political homogeneity necessarily leads to ‘batting each other’s back’ instead of critical discourse. Those ethnomusicologists who enjoy the privilege of living and working in a pluralist society are free to set political accents but they should be able to speak to a politically heterogeneous (or neural) audience. Therefore ethnomusicology should not be engaged too much in cultivating particular political opinions. I am not calling for a depolitization of ethnomusicology. On the contrary, due to certain processes taking place in the contemporary world, European ethnomusicology has reason to reinforce fundamental European ideas of individual freedom and equal political rights. The freedom of expression of the communities under study and the freedom of intellectual discourse are the indispensable preconditions of doing ethnomusicology.


Naomi Bath (PhD candidate, Royal Holloway)

 Title: Folk music and cultural policy in Hungary today

 This paper will draw on recent work on music and cultural policy (Titon 1992; Hesmondhalgh & Pratt 2005; Cohen 2012; Homan 2013; Behr & Brennan 2014) to offer two perspectives on the relationship between ethnomusicology and cultural policy in Hungary today.  The first will explore the growing capacity for ethnomusicologists to inform cultural policy through an examination of the role played by ethnomusicologists in the successful placing of Hungarian folk music and dance teaching methods on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2011).  Drawing from discussions with the Director of the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Hungary and broader fieldwork research, I will scrutinise the level of involvement of ethnomusicologists in the ICH advisory committee to the Minister for Cultural Heritage.  The influence of ethnomusicology on other areas of cultural policy, tourism and education will also be touched on.  The second perspective will explore the reciprocal sphere of influence between ethnomusicologists and policy makers. That is to say, ethnomusicologists are not only called upon to offer expert advice, but can find themselves subject to pressure from policy makers to support a political agenda. Taking into account recent shifts in political ideology, I will therefore examine ways in which particular types of folk music are endorsed and promoted by the current Hungarian government, in keeping with its emphasis on ‘traditional’ and ‘national’ values.  Heritage and preservation discourses are central to Hungary’s cultural policy so consideration of ways in which ethnomusicologists, and indeed a broader network of folk music specialists, are involved and implicated in these processes will be crucial.

Simon McKerrell (Newcastle University)

 ‘Traditional music and cultural sustainability in Scotland’

This paper examines how the recent shift towards professionalized and commodified traditional Scottish music has produced new economic exchange models and how these new contexts for performance are re-shaping musical traditions in Scotland. Since the 1980s there has been a fast growth in the marketisation of traditional music as a commercial product serving both domestic and international markets. This has brought increased revenues and new models of financial exchange and support for artists making a living from Scottish traditional music such as cultural tourism, heritage trails, professionalized music sessions and festivalization, online tuition and international summer schools. Through a series of short focused case studies, this paper surveys some of these models, how they operate in the Scottish context, the policy environment, compares both the financial and cultural sustainability of these practices, and their effects upon the Scottish traditions. In relating these developments to the wider, international ethnomusicology of the commercialisation and institutionalisation of traditional music as Intangible Cultural Heritage, it also explores what we might learn from other countries’ and regional experiences of the commercialisation of traditional music, and suggests some possible directions for policy makers, artists and their audiences. 

PanelThe Traditional Arts In Scotland: An Emerging Policy Context

The panel will focus on the emerging policy context for what have come to be collectively defined as the ‘traditional arts’ in Scotland – music, song, storytelling and dance. The panel will reflect on the process of narrative building in this context and outline the emergence of a national cultural policy of intrinsic worth for the traditional arts since 1993, culminating in the formation of the advocacy body Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland (TRACS) in 2012.

 The current political and cultural moment in late modern Scotland and its transitioning relationship with the UK provides the backdrop for this discussion. Both globally and locally, cultural industries are progressively taking over traditional forms of creation and dissemination and bringing about changes in cultural practices.  In a UK context, at present, ‘culture’ is devolved to the Scottish parliament. Through Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government is seeking to implement a growth paradigm of development where the ‘creative industries’ and instrumentalism are central priorities in the policy discourse. This has given rise to a well-worn ‘discursive knot’ (Stephenson 2014) of various discourse strands clustering around the debate over instrumental versus intrinsic values.

It has been argued that the emergence of a lobby group and ring-fenced funding specifically for traditional arts is one of the only significant differences between Scottish cultural policy and that of the wider UK (McKerrell 2014). The argument for state support of the traditional arts has largely been an intrinsic one, emphasising both the national importance of indigenous material (often in contemporary form) as well as their value to collective, local and community life. Recent work by TRACS has assessed the opportunity to expand the audience, opportunities and reach of traditional arts by promoting these arts as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). Through local case studies, the panel will consider the extent to which ICH has the potential to be both a ‘pathway to local ownership of cultural resources and to creative inspiration’ (TRACS 2015). Looking to the future, the panel will explore the potential for interdisciplinary perspectives in ethnomusicology to contribute to a developing cultural policy for the traditional arts, with the wider goal of reframing the value of arts and culture in local, national and international contexts.


David Francis (Musician & Executive Officer of the Traditional Music Forum)

 An Emerging Policy Context for the Traditional Arts in Scotland

The ‘traditional arts’ (generally considered to be music and song, dance and storytelling) began to enter the consideration of public funders in Scotland in the mid-80s, and their legitimacy as an object of public funding established in the early 90s. This paper looks at how the traditional arts began to develop an infrastructure of ‘education, information and advocacy’, the moves towards mainstreaming of the traditional arts in funding policy and their role in the development of cultural policy in Scotland. In particular the focus will be on the development of networked organisations such as the Traditional Music Forum and its umbrella body TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland).


Steve Byrne (Musician, Singer, Folklorist & Ethnologist, University of Edinburgh)

Local Voices: Re-contextualising Digital Archive Resources

Folklorist and musician Steve Byrne presents a case study of applied ethnomusicology in action. The organisation Local Voices aims to celebrate the traditions and diversity of local communities in the global age, taking in language, song, story, music and memory. This project is self-consciously ‘interventionist,’ delivering a variety of projects in schools and local communities across Scotland (most recently in Dundee and Angus), taking traditions back from the archives to give them new life in the places where they were originally collected. This work combines digitised archive resources – including sound recordings – which have started to become available online in recent years (such as Tobar an Dualchais/Kist O’ Riches), along with maps and other digitised print resources. Here Steve reflects on his practice and suggests recommendations for the development of an UNESCO ICH framework within the emerging policy context for the traditional arts in a Scottish context. 


Mairi McFadyen (Ethnomusicologist, Cultural Activist & Teaching Research Assistant, Department of Celtic & Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh)

Hiding in Plain Sight is a Much Larger Story

This paper considers the possibilities for dialogue with and between ethnomusicology and cultural policy, with a focus on the opportunities presented by the cultural and political moment in contemporary Scotland. There has been a growing interest among ethnomusicologists to explore the embodied aspects of human musicality and the transformative power of the arts in everyday life. Within a growth paradigm of development where the ‘creative industries’ and instrumentalism are central priorities in cultural policy, there is not much space in the narrative for this vital dimension of cultural life.  Policy makers’ particular a priori interpretive perspectives, combined with actions that flow from them, create implicit categories that include a host of binaries, concepts and assumptions. While it can be argued that the sort of implicit distinctions made are a pragmatic necessity of measurement, in so doing, negative effects are often overlooked. That is to say that policy rhetoric often disguises a much larger narrative that is ‘hiding in plain sight’ (Goldbard 2012). As DeNora (2003) has concluded, referring specifically to music, the emergent properties of culture are ‘affordances’ for world-making activity – with culture seen as resource for action, motivation, thought, and imagination. Activities such as ‘musicking’ (Small 2011) afford pre-rational openings to embodied and ethical ways of knowing and being that can be discovered through ethnomusicological research. Drawing upon on previous interdisciplinary research in the traditional arts – a study of the embodied aesthetic experience of traditional song in a Scottish context, bringing together perspectives from ecology, phenomenology, narratology and embodied cognition (McFadyen 2012) – this paper will argue that such perspectives from ethnomusicology might help enlarge policy discourse and help create an arts policy paradigm in which the full spectrum of cultural possibilities are actively encouraged.


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