International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

ICTM Dialogues 2021: Abstracts

Saturday, 20 February 2021, 5–7 pm (UTC+0)

01—A Latin American Dialogue for Social Inclusion: Community Musics, Ethnicities, and Identities [WATCH ON YOUTUBE[WATCH ON BILIBILI]

In a globalized world, dominated by neoliberal economies, flooded by social inequality, and now decimated by a global pandemic, ethnic minorities throughout the Americas continue to experience marginalization and exclusion, frequently perpetuated by historical tensions of race, class, nation, and gender. In this context of oppression, communities frequently embrace traditional or popular musical and performance practices to build meaning, construct networks of solidarity, and create a sense of community, oftentimes strengthening cooperation and collective action. In this panel session, we will present three cases from Amazonas (Brazil), Los Angeles (California), and Bogotá (Colombia), displaying diverse situations in which community organization and local performance practices converge to construct spaces of cultural resistance, enabling processes of identity construction and development of a sense of belonging, among other forms of social impact.

Agenor Vasconcelos presents the case of kuximawara music among Indigenous musicians in the Brazilian Amazon city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, describing Indigenous musicology applied to a current local genre of popular music, pointing out to continuities related to the Jurupary myth. This work reinforces the political agenda of resistance of Indigenous music that has been deconstructed and naturalized by the music industry. Jessie Vallejo will present some of the challenges and possibilities for decolonizing music curricula at the undergraduate university level in a Hispanic Enrolling (aspiring to be a Hispanic Serving) Institute. In particular she will discuss the case of mariachi ensembles as part of a music degree programme, drawing from her experience as a student, professor, and ensemble director, in addition to the experiences of her students. Juan Rojas will present the case of religious Afro-Colombian rituals from the Pacific Coast of Colombia that are transplanted to the city of Bogotá and are oriented towards community building in the context of economic migration or forced displacement. Since the late 1980s, these celebrations have tackled diverse social issues, such as structural racism, in the context of emerging multicultural policies.

This session will address decolonization of music scholarship in several manners. First, each ICTM member will co-present with a research collaborator who will complete the presentation from a grassroots perspective. We want to decentre the scholar’s authority and make native voices directly audible in this event. Second, to encourage more multidirectional dialogue, we will give 13-minute presentations and prioritize lengthy discussion. During discussion, participants will address transversal issues proposed by the moderator, Julio Mendívil. The moderator will be a central methodological figure, facilitating questions, threading connections between cases, and exerting equanimity in the use of time. To challenge hegemonic ideas of academic communication, we will weave our presentations together as collective narratives rather than as three independent presentations. Third, we aim to reposition the importance of single authorship, acknowledging that social interactionism in the context of knowledge production can lead to other, sometimes more inclusive, kinds of discourse.

Saturday, 27 February 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC+2)

02—From Cosmopolitanism to Cosmology: Forging Decolonial Praxis in Contemporary South Africa [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

    The Arts Research Africa (ARA) project in the Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand has been exploring how artistic research can decolonize knowledge and practice in a highly charged national context. Over the past five years, South African universities have demonstrated that decolonization “is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools” (Tuck and Yang, 2012). They have again become sites of intensified decolonial activism, scholarship, and attempts to forge transformative praxis a quarter-century after the formal end of apartheid. Challenging not only the enduring legacies of colonialism but also the unfulfilled promises of the post-apartheid era, protests sparked by the under-provision of funding have encompassed wider struggles for social justice by opposing exploitative labour practices and confronting colonial, and to an extent patriarchal and heteronormative, academic institutional cultures. The ARA initiative (documented inter alia in open-source conference proceedings) continues to engage issues around decolonization in African arts, including music study. 

    The session we are proposing emerges from an artist residency inspired by Steven Feld’s monograph Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra and the accompanying music recordings and films. The central musicians who feature in Feld’s study were invited to Johannesburg to engage in a pan-African conversation and collaboration about the comparative forms that jazz cosmopolitanism has taken in various African cities and regions. The intention to enable the subjects of contemporary Africanist research in West and South Africa to engage in a direct, pan-African dialogue with peer musicians and cultural activists without relying on the mediation of anthropologists or ethnomusicologists, already had a decolonial dimension. This was heightened by several other elements of the project. An ensemble comprising both music faculty and students was formed to study the Accra recordings and respond musically from an embodied research perspective. Furthermore, the Wits Festival Study Group, premised on the study of African musicology and festival theories and practices, engaged forms of jazz cosmopolitanism not only in the content of the residency performances but in their form as an action research project. And beyond the academic space, an extensive social partnership with community-based jazz appreciators and cultural organizers brought vernacular curatorial practices and aesthetics to the project in ways that challenged both the scholars and the musicians. This multilingual session will present video and related materials generated by this unfolding intra-and extra-academic collaboration, recounting and analyzing how what came to be known as the practice-led Cosmology project realises decolonial approaches to knowledge production in and beyond jazz scholarship in contemporary South Africa.

    Organizer/Presenters: Brett Pyper, Mfanufikile Aubrey Motau, Oladele Ayorinde, Chantal WIllie-Petersen, Christine Msibi Jozi, Manyatsa Monyamane

    Saturday, March 13 2021, 5–7 pm (UTC+0)

    03—Insider Dance Research and Resulting Discourses in Seven African Countries [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

      Research and discourse on traditional dances from many African nations has been greatly dominated by a number of voices far away from those of the bearers of the researched traditions. Textual/formal documentation and interpretation of dance knowledge have mainly been done in English or French—languages far away from the local languages of the tradition bearers. This represents interpretational dynamics, for instance pointing to a rather Eurocentric understanding devoid of particular realities, detailed analysis (bodily/sonic), and intentions of local enactment of these traditions. With a long prevalence of such dynamics, the understanding is then seen as “normal,” and adopted by teachers because it is indeed what is accessible and well-published. Due to lack of resources in most of these nations, dance research has mostly been carried out by outside researchers, who on the one hand have greatly improved visibility of many traditions, especially those of minority ethnic groups. On the other hand, it has to some degree put research and voices from insiders in the shadow. For the purpose of this presentation, we have decided to refer to dance researchers born and raised within Africa as “inside researchers” and those not born and raised in Africa as “outside researchers.” Many African nations literally depend on the scholarly accounts of outside researchers for it is what is accessible—a situation that not only activates colonial dynamics, but also presents difficulties for local communities to access, assess, and critique this knowledge in scholarly discourses. How can we level this imbalance and in the process provide for decolonization of our discipline? 

      As a practical decolonization measure in a very concrete practice (dancing) understood by such local communities, this discussion intends first to showcase scholarly works of inside researchers in seven African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and South Africa), in the field of dance. It will be a modest project, engaging and describing the integral topics and research orientations among the inside researchers. Our hypothesis is that inside researchers have different inherent strategies, aims, and methodologies. The transmission of traditional dance knowledge and its safeguarding and dissemination are hardly touched by outside researchers, and need to be amplified, if the world is to see their worth. The discussion will further look into the colonial dynamics embedded in the ontologies, as well as epistemological constructions of the discourses on dance traditions from Africa. It will summarise scholarly intentions behind particular works, with a purpose of building further on these intentions and advocate for a balance of scholarly voices. The group sees the balance of scholarly voices as a direct tool for decolonization in post-colonial countries. Some supplementary material can be found here.

      Organizer/Presenters: Gwerevende Solomon, Heather Elizabeth van Niekerk, MacDonald Maluwaya,

      Ronald Kibirige; Eric Baffour Awuah, Olabanke Oyinkansola Goriola, Gerald Ssemaganda, Kesii Mark Lenini

      Saturday, March 27 2021, 12–2 pm (UTC+0)

      04—Collaborative Methodologies for Decentring Power Hierarchies in Education, Artistic Research, and Museum Curating [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

      Decolonization demands fundamental changes in hegemonic power relations and the decentring of hierarchies such as those between scholarship/activism, theory/practice, and researcher/researched. Interrogation of these dichotomies diminishes the authority of academics as experts of a specific musical culture and transforms the balance of power. This interpretation of decolonization requires shifts in methodologies that foreground the struggles and voices of the Indigenous and marginalized communities and that engage them in the production and dissemination of knowledge. In this panel, we share the collaborative methodologies in five different decolonizing projects pertaining to music education, archiving, digital ethnography, and research creation in Brazil, Taiwan, and Malaysia. 

      José Jorge de Carvalho discusses “The Meeting of Knowledge Movement” that aims to promote a concrete decolonization of the arts in teaching, research, and archiving, which began in Brazil in 2010. Carvalho shares his experiences in promoting affirmative action for students of Indigenous and Black communities to enter all academic spaces and for Indigenous and Black masters to teach their local genres of music and dance on an equal basis with Western classical music and dance. Matthias Lewy deliberates the concepts of collaborative archiving and curating that aim to decolonize the ethnographic museum's research, archiving, and curating practices. He reflects on the “restitution” project with Indigenous co-researcher Balbina Lambos from Venezuela/Brazil who employed Indigenous ideas of curating such as the incorporation of dance and music. Both were invited by the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin to investigate the instruments and other relevant ritual objects of the Koch-Grünberg collections. Deise Lucy Oliveira Montardo investigates how Indigenous musicians use rap as a musical genre to deal with their struggles in Brazil. She examines the digital ethnography (2020) project with Indigenous musicians in Brazil that documented the intense activities carried out by these artists in a broad mobilization of resistance and struggle for the guarantee of minimum conditions in the confrontation of the pandemic that affected the Indigenous peoples in a very intense way. Wei-Ya Lin considers the challenges of collaboration between Austria-based composers/sound creators and Tao traditional music practitioner Chien-Ping Kuo and the contemporary Tao dancer Si Pehbowen as artistic researchers in the project Creative (Mis)Understandings (2018–2021). The formation of a digital platform with a horizontal communication structure allows all the collaborators to take notice of the various existing power hierarchies in field research and the daily lives of the Tao. Tan Sooi Beng makes a case for artistic research that integrates research/creative practice, performance/protest, and Western/local musics as a decolonizing approach that can help sustain endangered minority traditions in Malaysia. In particular, she discusses the collaborative participatory approaches and the challenges faced in the rejuvenation of the Penang Hokkien glove puppet theatre. 

      Saturday, April 10 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-5)

      05—Painting Ecuador Anew: Knowledge Circulation in a Diversified Country [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

        This session aims to gather a diverse group of Ecuadorian singers, musicians, academics, and activists to discuss the power of sounds and embodied movements in circulating knowledge(s) beyond universalised theoretical frameworks that almost always locate them on the bottom rung. By this, we intend to challenge the extractivist tendency of some academic research, where, as coined by the Bolivian sociologist Rivera Cusicanqui (2015: 89), knowledge(s) from the Global South have mainly been understood and used as the source of extraction of “raw material” to be exported, processed, and subsequently re-imported as “refined” products, or “truly academic” knowledge. Through brief (6-8 minutes) pre-recorded, collective and performative interventions, each group of participants will creatively approach the context of their work. The interventions will have a particular emphasis on generating strategies based on local epistemologies and ontologies to “interculturally translate” (Sousa Santos, 2010: 57) their knowledge(s) to a broader audience. The proposed session will be tri-lingual (Kichwa-Spanish-English). Subtitles will be provided when needed to facilitate a wider understanding, and at the same time, to celebrate the linguistic richness of groups that have been historically excluded from academia. 

        Among the participating groups are the Colectivo Guangopolo [Guangopolo Collective], Warmi Shina Ñuka Trans [Just as Women, We Transexuals] and Sinchi Warmikuna [Strong Women]. The three groups will focus on fresh perspectives of knowledge circulation, with a special emphasis on its re-construction, democratization, and strengthening. On the one hand, the Colectivo Guangopolo will tackle a needed re-construction of the circulation of local dances from the elders of the rural town of Guangopolo, which includes the communities of Rumilona, Sorialoma, and La Toglla (Pichincha province). Their work is inscribed within a context in which folk groups have been forced to include in their repertoire only those dances that are widely recognized as an official part of a “national identity.” Historically, there is a fixed group of dances that is massively recognized as part of an Ecuadorian identity, which excludes other not-so-well-known dances, such as the ones from Guangopolo. 

        On the other hand, the folk dance group Warmi Shina Ñuka Trans will propose to democratize the circulation of knowledge around traditional-festive arts of the Ecuadorian Andes from the point of view of the queer population of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador (Pichincha province). By democratization, they specifically refer to the horizontal circulation of knowledge between academic researchers and the group, and thus, the rejection of any power relation that could be established in the process of research. 

        Finally, the female group Sinchi Warmikuna will share their process of circulation of knowledge between Ecuadorian Indigenous women from different Kichwa communities (Kichwa-Otavalo, Kichwa-Caranki, Kichwa-Kayambi, Kichwa-Kutacachi, Kichwa-Puruwa and Kichwa-Waranka; Imbabura, Chimborazo, and Pichincha provinces) who have resisted patriarchy by encouraging women to keep singing their ancestral ways of understanding the world and to circulate their knowledge to new generations through singing. Through these three performative approaches, each group intends to contribute to the decolonization of the study of music and dances while empowering themselves to expose unique perspectives of knowledge circulation.

        Saturday, April 24 2021, 10 am–12 pm  (UTC+0)

        06—Dance, Body and Decoloniality: Between Practice and Institutionalization [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          The marks of colonialism are still evident in our contemporaneity; however, its manifestations have progressively become more complex. Through this collective endeavour, we aim to reflect on the shades of decoloniality in dance, mobilising different contexts and situations from practice-based (tradition to contemporary) and institutional-based (museums and academia) knowledge. Apart from the traditional concept of oppression of the Global South; we want to explore how East-West power dynamics play out in certain ways that permit us to observe shifts from the centre to the periphery. Departing from these reflections, the four presentations in this panel will show that decoloniality is a dynamic process, which has the potential of creating dialogues to repurpose social equality.

          This panel is proposed by a diverse and international group of emerging researchers from Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, and India, to support and contribute to the debate of decolonisation of music and dance studies. All participants are master’s students in the programme Choreomundus–International Master’s in Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage, coordinated by the Université Clermont-Ferrand (UCA).

          Akanni Samson and Mohammed Faisal“Decolonizing the Dancing Body”

          Contemporary dance choreographers in Nigeria recently have made extra efforts to propagate the philosophies of their ancestors through their novel dance styles. Among these choreographers is Qudus Onikeku, a prominent Nigerian dance professor known for being "atypical" in performance and rehearsal methods. In his works, his effort to alter narratives of how we perceive and imagine dance is embodied in his devised technique, to deconstruct and recreate the dance body of Africans. This presentation aims to bring his training and performance methodologies to the fore. In order to deepen this discourse, we will engage the frameworks of Onikeku's work to help us understand his deconstructive strategies, decolonial tools, motivations, and visions for African dance practitioners.

          Maria Luiza Patury: “Decentralizing Museum Narratives Through Performance”

          Proposing a non-classical path to think about decolonization, this paper discusses the role of dance and performing arts in reviewing power in connection with the production of historical knowledge. Who can tell the history? And where can we learn about it? Through an example of the film A Very British Museumdirected by Seeta Patel, this presentation will discuss the role of artistic interventions and performing arts in decentralizing narratives and institutional approaches in museums and reflect about the possibilities of the inclusion of these new narratives inside its space.

          Sriradha Paul: “Dynamic Bodies, A Case Study of Odissi Dance”

          Advancing from a performance practice perspective, the contradictory history of Odissi (Indian classical dance) being a post-colonial dance is not free from the colonial eye. From an insider-outsider position in the Odissi community, it is easy to notice the possible shifts of dance from the classical decolonized body to the dynamic body of decoloniality through the works of a few celebrated Indian choreographers. This work will analyse the issue of Pay and Perform and the interdisciplinary work by dismantling disciplinary boundaries focussed on the intersectional work between genders, class, and indigenous communities. 

          Saturday, May 8 2021, 1–3 pm (UTC+0)

          07—Decolonization of High-Impact International Journals of Music [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          Academic and scholarly outputs from institutions of learning are documented and disseminated in different media: books, periodicals, monographs, electronic slides, etc. For the most part, periodicals in the form of journal publications are quite prominent and highly regarded in academia due to the insistence on peer-review mechanisms as a critical norm and force for its authentication and quality assurance. This tradition has been maintained over time in different knowledge cultures and locations supported by the global academia. Quality/critical scholarly and research outputs were published without hindrance, bias, or condescension in different international journals that have enjoyed high ratings in terms of impact and rankings. Before the twenty-first century, the access to publish in international journals by African and Nigerian scholars was maintained. Nigerian musicologists still celebrate Meki Nzewi, Akin Euba, Samual Akpabot, Lazarus Ekwueme, Richard Okafor, Joshua Uzoigwe, and others whose articles in notable journals across the world remain reference materials. This trend has changed in recent times, with journals making very glaring distinctions between writers from the Global North and those from the Global South. Low acceptance rates of research submissions from Africa is very strong in recent times, making most scholars, particularly from Nigeria, very weary of discrimination and constant rejection by gatekeepers. The stringent requirements by journals cut off consideration of the challenges faced by scholars in many different global sociocultural contexts. High-impact journals are intolerant of submissions that do not meet their requirements, which are constructed on Western structures and norms. This indeed is a form of mental imperialism/neocolonialism/colonization of academia through its research outputs. African scholars are compelled to adopt Western models in article writings, consolidating the dependency syndrome. A conclusion can be drawn that if a publication does not match the requirements of the West, it is not worthy of inclusion. Access is denied based on such West-centric notions, or should we say, bias. The majority of Nigerian scholars are facing critical challenges regarding access and acceptance. Drawing attention to this challenge, this panel takes the position that the practice of high-impact music journals around the world is exclusionary, colonizing, and negatively impacts access and dissemination of research and scholarly outputs from disadvantaged and excluded global contexts and cultures. The panel is strongly disinclined to parochial Euro-centric perspectives and pressures for research to comply with European structures. The panel is inclined to more liberal and accommodating structures that weigh the impact of unequal socio-economic access and human development indices on research facilities, funding, and outputs in journal publications. The objective would be to find solutions that would enable greater access for Nigerian musicologists and researchers. The panel calls for a paradigm shift and a transformation in all spheres of high-impact journal publication practice. 

          Organizers/Presenters: Christian Onyeji, Felicia Ezeugwu, Kingsley Ilo, Ijeoma Forchu, Elizabeth Onyeji, Chidubem Onyekwelu

          Saturday, May 22 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-3)

          08— “Piti Piti Zwazo Fè Nich”: Appraising Haitian Music-making in Brazil and Projecting Futures Amidst Pandemics and Precarity [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          Twenty-first-century Haitian migration to Brazil is part of recent shifts in global mobility patterns and immigration flows to Brazil (Audebert, 2017; Handerson, 2015). Globally, Haitian migration into Brazil is linked to the hardening of Global North immigration policies and a resulting increase in the South-South movement of economic migrants and refugees. Within Brazil, this signals a new surge of Black immigration in a country where racial inequality evinces differentiated forms of citizenship and how legacies of colonialism and slavery continue to impact the lives of non-white Brazilians. Investigating this recent Black migration wave becomes all the more important when one observes the overlap between the racialized perception of Black migrants by Brazilian society (Uebel, 2015), and the widespread denial of structural racism in Brazil, as manifested in official discourses based on the myth of a Brazilian “racial democracy.”

          Distributed mostly in the urban centres of the country's south and southeastern regions, Haitian migrants have been integrated into Brazilian society mostly as a new source of cheap labour in civil construction as well as service and food industries (Cavalcanti, 2017), further evincing how “race is the modality through which class is lived” (Hall, 1978). Parallel to work, many Haitians perform intense musical labour in different contexts. The main locus of this musical agency has been the Haitian (home) studios they have established through patient money-saving and other collective efforts. Through such musical powerhouses, Haitian migrant artists have produced vast quantities of music in an eclectic array of musical genres. This music circulates mostly within local migrant networks and, with the aid of communication technology, throughout Haiti and the transnational circuits of the Haitian diaspora (Santos, 2018).

          As this diaspora completes its first decade of existence, this dialogue session aims to empower migrant epistemologies and ontologies. To decentre power the researcher/researched power hierarchies, this session brings together five Haitian artists and studio owners to debate some of the major challenges and achievements of Haitian music making in Brazil. Through brief individual accounts by Alix Georges, Poony Btag, Prince Amki, and Very Larose, we begin exploring specific connections between their musicking (Small, 2000) and migratory experiences in the local and transnational spaces that connect Haiti to Brazil. We explore how their positionality as Black migrant artists offers a unique view into discussions about racism and migration in Brazil. As the conversation progresses, special attention shall be given to the year 2020 as we explore the covid-19 pandemic’s social, sanitary, and economic impact on Haitian migrants in Brazil. Above all, we discuss the repercussions of the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racist struggle movements under Bolsonaro’s doubly denialist government, which dismisses structural racism and the pandemic as “imported” threats to national security. 

          Organizer/Presenters: Alix Georges, Jocelyn Prèval, Akim Merissant Dorvilus, Very Larose, Caetano Maschio Santos

          Saturday, May 29 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-4)

          09—Challenging Embedded Coloniality in Music History Curricula [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          Canada is located on the lands known to Indigenous peoples as Turtle Island. As it becomes increasingly diverse and globalized, its educational institutions and their predominantly white faculty members have a duty to reform curricula to account for and include the stories and voices of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour (BIPOC). Exposing and addressing the colonial histories that have led to the whiteness of the academy is part of this responsibility. Since university music education is still built around a history of music that is rooted in essentialist European narratives and the "normative" sounds of Western European music, it remains particularly resistant to change. It is a work in progress to develop both a pedagogy and a curriculum that would challenge these embedded narratives theoretically and broaden the practical canon of music practices beyond elite, white music. What are the obstacles to integrating a decolonial perspective into music history? What types of educational resources need to be implemented to move toward an inclusive and global music history? How can existing resources be made more accessible to instructors who wish to revise and ideally decolonize their undergraduate music history courses?

          This panel aims to contribute to the crucial process of decolonizing knowledge production and dissemination in university music programmes by sharing research and reflections from within the Canadian post-secondary context. The Canadian context is a relevant starting point because of its position in the Americas including its ongoing colonial reality, its institutional bilingualism despite an English-speaking dominance, its predominantly white but also multicultural population, and its recent political moves toward improving recognition of Indigenous culture and heritage. These are, however, moves that do not transfer easily to the practical realm of the music history classroom, due to the embedded and enduring colonial and hegemonic structures of the post-secondary education system. In an effort to reveal and challenge the operative structural frameworks and the shadowy agendas of post-secondary music programmes, we seek to share our practical experiences from within the academy, create spaces for dialogue, and open up room for the debate.

          The panellists are all musicologists speaking from positions of privilege within the academy, teaching required music history survey courses and also experimenting with curricular and pedagogical redesign. We will present three 15-minute papers followed by 45 minutes for questions and dialogue in both French and English. The first paper sets the scene by putting curriculum, decolonial theory, and emergent work on global music history in dialogue. The second paper digs deep into practical experience, sharing curricular experiments undertaken in an undergraduate early European music survey course. The third paper presents a collaborative case study on music history course redesign. Supplementary material will include bilingual summaries, an online survey about participant expectations to be shared during the discussion, and links to two recent themed journal issues from Journal of Music History Pedagogy and Intersections: Canadian Journal of Music.

          Organizer/Presenters: Margaret E. Walker, D. Linda Pearse, Sandria P. Bouliane, Sarah-Anne Arsenault

          Supplementary materials: Journal of Music History Pedagogy Vol 10 No 1 (2020): Special Issue: Decolonization. Intersections: Canadian Journal of Music/Revue Canadienne de Musique Vol 39 No 1 (2019): Special Issue: Decolonizing Music Pedagogies

          Saturday, June 12 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-3)

          10—Ethnomusicology in Rio de Janeiro, its Praxis, Methods and Political Engagements: An Overview of the Participatory Action Research Groups of the Ethnomusicology Laboratory of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          We submit this proposal as members of the Ethnomusicology Lab of UFRJ (LE-UFRJ), represented by groups that are involved in performance as part of participatory research methodologies. We do not take a position of “neutrality” but aim, through praxis, to produce research models of intervention, reflection, and political action. We are inspired in our work by the Musicultura group, the oldest group at LE-UFRJ, characterized by such interventionist and activist work in local sites. Groups such as the Research Group on Ethnomusicology Dona Ivone Lara and the Ethnomusicological Research Group Negô act in events and movements related to Black music production, made for and by Black people, while taking into consideration debates related to intersectionality in a broad sense–in which race, gender, sexuality, and class, territoriality, and accessibility are vectors that shape research. The debate dimension of interreligious dialogue is represented by the Templo Cultural group, which develops its work in Baixada Fluminense, a metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. The musical and political performance of young Black artists and activists from the hip-hop universe are represented by the research of Juliana Catinin, Nyl MC, and DJ Pirigo

          We seek to break with academic canons that transgress the rights of oppressed people and groups, to contest the privilege of academic writing, and to take a decolonial and counter-colonial path. This involves valuing and  making visible and giving weight to counter-hegemonic political and epistemological experiences of our African, Afro-Brazilian, and Amerindian ancestors. Without any illusion of “purity,” we share perspectives from a diverse, complex, urban diaspora. These are voices that challenge their daily lived realities, reflecting deeply on issues such as structural racism, which is visible in public spaces, through religion, corporeality, politics, and music.

          This panel is composed mostly of young Black people with diverse backgrounds, in academia and beyond, living in the peripheries. We understand and honour the knowledge of those who came before us, and those who work outside of current paradigms. We have thought together about music and what it offers as a tool for transforming  society, proposing alternatives that foster dialogue and, in a certain sense, overcome the canons of colonialism and coloniality of the world of ethnomusicology as an academic practice. Thus, through a multifocal perspective of acoustic situations of oppression–observed from perspectives of people of oppressed groups–we will discuss how social transformation may be achieved through actions on a micro level, which over time can gain other dimensions and also help in the fight for social justice.

          Saturday, June 26 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-4)

          11—Working Together? Interrogating Collaboration towards Decolonizing Music and Dance Research [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          Working together is a vital aspect of ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicologists have always depended upon individuals or groups in/from the field. Yet, their collaborations have not always been framed as such, and the level of socio-political awareness has differed from project to project. Furthermore, ethnomusicologists have always worked together with different cultural, social, and political actors (e.g., museums and festivals). The discipline inherently intersects with other disciplines, often leading us to work with researchers from various fields. However, ethnomusicological and academic analysis and writing are still generally individualized and isolated practices. Working together remains a personal choice, it is not something that is structurally encouraged, as it implies more time, effort, and resources.

          Collaboration has become a keyword for an ethnomusicology that is working on decolonizing the discipline, particularly for developing collaborative research projects and applying collaborative methodologies. Applied ethnomusicology has tried to include those “researched” into research processes, to not write “about” people, but “with” people. Yet, regarding decolonizing, what does collaboration imply for power relations, building relationships, and has it, by now, become an empty promise within a neoliberal and neocolonial academic system? Are “decolonizing” and “collaboration” simply academic buzzwords in a feel-good decolonial academia, and essentially non-performative (Ahmed, 2006)? 

          Can ethnomusicologists alone decolonize music studies? How can we work with other music specialists, and go beyond “cosmetic interdisciplinarity” (Sperber, 2003)? Can intra-academic collaboration result in effective decolonization if it is situated within academic environments that are rooted in white supremacy and Eurocentrism, that uphold narrow and elitist understandings of knowledge? Or, should we invest less into the institution and more into actual collaborative engagements and coalitions outside academia? How can we use our access to funds, infrastructure, and power from within the university? What does forging relationships in terms of collaboration as an active political gesture imply within and beyond academic work?

          This session will discuss aims, challenges, misunderstandings, the discomfort of feel-good politics, blind spots, and the risk of empty concepts in relation to the questions above. Each session participant will contribute a brief presentation in multiple formats (dialogue, audiovisual material, text, speech) on one aspect of collaboration based on our own experiences, projects, collectives, and discourses of collaboration within academia and beyond (40 minutes). Then, we will think through the different aspects of collaboration, coalition, and crossings in music and dance research in a curated discussion, which will have been developed over several weeks of continuous online discussions on these topics within our group prior to the session (60 Minutes). In the last part, we enter into conversation with the audience (20 minutes). While we think that working together is a necessary and possible form of decolonizing, it remains vital to interrogate and reimagine our practices and premises regarding this subject. 

          Organizer/Presenters: Cornelia Gruber, Charissa Granger, Talia Bachir-Loopuyt, Marko Kölbl

          References and supplemental readings:

          • Ahmed, Sara. 2006. “The Nonperformativity of Antiracism”. In Meridians 7(1): 104-126.
          • Lugones, María. 2003. Pilgrimages / Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions. Lanham: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group (Introduction and Ch. 4)
          • Sperber, Dan. 2003. “Why Rethink Interdisciplinarity?” In Rethinking interdisciplinarity / Repenser l’interdisciplinarité (virtual seminar),

          Saturday, 10 July 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-3)

          12—Collaborative Knowledge Production in the Territories of the Southern Cone [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          In recent decades, collaborative academic works have been produced in Latin America and in the southern cone territories, prioritizing Indigenous epistemologies as well as reciprocal values and intercultural micropolitics, in conjunction with critical approaches towards hegemonic Western theorizations. We will present the following topics relevant to decolonization in—and through—ethnomusicology.

          Anthropology of Body and Performance Research Team , U. Buenos Aires (Silvia Citro, Adriana Cerletti, Soledad Torres Agüero, Adil Podhajcer and Ema Cuañerí (Toba-Qom singer and teacher): “Two long-term, collaborative research projects with the Toba people of the Argentine Chaco, and with the Latin American Network of Andean Women Musicians.” These projects began with fieldwork documentation, transcription and analysis, and subsequent stages have included collaborative, interdisciplinary research with Ema Cuañeri, Soledad Torres Agüero, and other Toba collaborators, and with Andean women performers. The projects feature participatory, multimedia, and multi-genre workshops, and participatory production of videos, books, and CDs in a context of increasing multiculturalist ideologies and cultural heritage policies. Finally, we outline an experimental process of artistic co-creation, in a context of critical interculturality and decolonial questioning of scholarly knowledge.

          María Mendizábal: “Collaboration, reciprocity and applied research with a Mapuche community in the Puelmapu territory.” This presentation addresses the experience of belonging to the Lof Vicente Catrunao Pincen, a community that ascribes itself as Mapuche-gününa küna and is currently undergoing a process of ethnogenesis. The Lof replicates the multiethnic and cross-cultural model of the original community (destroyed in the nineteenth century by a military incursion), integrating people of different ancestry, as in the case of this ethnomusicologist. It is worth clarifying that the author has joined the community not as an ethnomusicologist, but as a tayilme (singer of tayil) and as a lamngem (sister/friend) with multiple roles.

          Leonardo Díaz with Mariana Signorelli: “Review of educational projects from a decolonial and gender perspective (2010–2020).” Untangling the colonialist and Eurocentric knots in the teaching of music and dance often leads us to revise our own teaching practices. For example, how do we think about folk music today? What needs to be questioned or kept? How do we understand teaching and learning from a gender perspective? Is it possible to deconstruct colonizing practices of listening, or should we assume them in order to understand from where we listen and why, and from where we dance and why we move as we do? I address these issues based on ten years of professional practice, emphasizing the closeness between teaching and ethnomusicology.

          Juan Domingo Ñanculef Huiquinao: “Ethnographic writing and representation based on collaboration and co-authorship.” Due to my status as kimche (bearer of wisdom), zugumachife (spiritual interpreter of the machi) and ülkantufe (traditional musician), numerous researchers have contacted me to collaborate in their work, either as an “informant” through interviews, or other manners of dialogue. At the same time, I have developed my own career as a researcher, which has led me to publish several works on the Mapuche worldview, within which music is always an important dimension. I will reflect upon my experiences as both informant and researcher in relation to the production of knowledge about the Mapuche people and their music.

          Saturday, 24 July 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC+0)

          13—Embracing a Decentred Approach in the Borderlands of Ethnomusicology [WATCH ON YOUTUBE] [WATCH ON BILIBILI]

          A vital aspect of decolonizing ethnomusicology and decolonizing knowledge more generally entails decentring whiteness. This work identifies vestiges of white supremacy in the discipline, especially in the way that stories are clipped, sutured, rationalized, translated, and ordered to fit fashionable theories or common narratives. Part of our decolonizing effort includes accepting that previous works are products of their time, and then following the lead of our fieldwork interlocutors to repair the misunderstandings generated. Decentring suggests a re-placement of focus, but on what should we now focus in our discipline’s work? 

          Centring our conclusions on the lives of Black and Indigenous musicians offers renewed attention on the experiences of marginalized and non-settler experience, but how might these operate in locations in Asia? Categories invoked by decolonizing scholarship are contested; indeed, groups living away from perceived ancestral homelands may not identify as “settler colonials” as the term is invoked in North American scholarship. How do ethnographers support decolonized practice if research partners or consultants in Asia do not abide by the assumptions underpinning Indigeneity and settler status? What happens if scholars identify multiple Indigenous experiences to centre? The panellists draw from their research experiences in Denmark, Japan, Myanmar, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the United States, and respond to these questions using ethnographic examination with what we consider “borderlands” running between and through more easily identifiable categories in Asia. We seek to engage decolonization and further decentre whiteness by foregrounding perspectives of inhabitants of the many borderlands folded into the fabric of music practice in Asia. These borderlands have been described occasionally as “transnational” or “translocal,” but do not fit easily into these groupings. Inhabitants of borderlands seek certain affinities and resist others; in many ways, they seek tactical decentring for the purposes of maintenance. Should ethnographic decentring seek new centres or remain decentred? How might constant unmooring generate agency?

          The four panellists will make short presentations and take part in a discussion with each other and a virtual audience. Alexander M. Cannon investigates how southern Vietnamese musicians decouple their practice from narratives of the “national character” as a way of forming new methods of sovereignty and social solidarity with musicians outside of Vietnam. Hsu Hsin-Wen examines the creation of Hakka hymns in Taiwan and how Hakka Christians in Taiwan and beyond have fought for the legitimacy and institutional support for Hakka missions. Kiku Day reflects on locations of knowledge about the shakuhachi, noting the many more “Western” studies of the instrument and its practices compared to those in Japan, and considers who owns intellectual knowledge about it. Lu Hsin-Chunseeks to decolonize hegemonic theoretical paradigms in studies of borderland communities and draws from specific examples in the Golden Triangle on the Thai-Myanmar border and among “world-music ensembles” in Taiwan. The panel therefore embraces decentred approaches and perspectives to explore emergent bounds of community in historical and contemporary borderlands.

          Saturday, 14 August 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-5)

          14—Notes for a Practical Concept of (De)coloniality in the Context of Music and Dance Practice [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          To orient discussions on decolonization, this session brings forward the concepts of coloniality and decoloniality, proposed and developed by several Latin American thinkers (Grosfoguel, 2007; Lugones, 2010; Mignolo & Walsh, 2018; Quijano, 2000). Coloniality refers to the continuity of colonial forms of domination after the end of colonial administrations, produced by colonial cultures and structures in the modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal world-system (Grosfogel, 2007: 219-220). Furthermore, we subscribe to the view that modernity implies coloniality, and coloniality implies modernity. Since colonialism is over while coloniality is pervasive, decolonizing is not about "undoing colonization," but about overcoming the structures of coloniality. Decolonizing, therefore, implies changing: (1) the way we view and interact with each other, (2) the material conditions of production of knowledge, (3) the material/epistemic/political structural forms of violence and marginalization (Mignolo & Walsh, 2018). 

          In our session we would like to introduce and discuss these concepts and propose a debate with the ICTM community on the following questions:

          1. What is the purpose of knowledge and how does it shape the research agendas within the fields of dance and music studies? Is the purpose to learn truths about the world or to transform it? To what extent should knowledge aim for posterity (as in the notion of “preservation”), and to what extent for living, struggling, and surviving today?
          2. How does embodied knowledge enter the discussion of decoloniality? How does it question knowledge centred in texts, both in and out of academia?
          3. How can we effectively make room in academia for relegated voices and bodies of the Indigenous, the mestiza, and the marginalized?

          As examples of valuable ongoing processes of transformation we propose: 

          1. Understanding how Indigenous modernities are being constructed by bringing up the work of academics, practitioners, and artists from Indigenous, mestizo, and Latinx backgrounds engaging in the doing and theorizing of Indigenous futurities and mestizo modernities (for instance Victoria Santa Cruz, José Reinoso, Maria Firmino Castillo, and Dancing Earth Contemporary Indigenous Creations). Example: Videos [A] and [B].
          2. The role that contemporary dance is playing in different Indigenous and urban communities throughout Latin America, and its synergic interaction with traditional/folkloric dances. Text example: Barba Fabian (2017), “Impure Transmissions: Traditions of Modern Dance Across Historical and Geographical Boundaries.” In Main L. (eds) Transmissions in Dance. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham [link].
          3. The role of street parties, such as the Carnival in Brazil, in the occupation of the public space by playful political bodies. We will take as an example the Bloco da Laje carnival parade in Porto Alegre, south of Brazil, as a manifestation that does not fit the categorization of “traditional” or “contemporary,” and propose to discuss how dance and play can act as tools for social transformation. Example: Video [C].

          Organizers/Presenters: Naiara Müssnich Rotta Gomes de Assunção, Juan Felipe Miranda Medina, Cinthia

          Carolina Duran Larrea, Jorge Poveda Yánez, Maria José Bejarano

           [A] Me Gritaron Negra - Victoria Santa Cruz :<br />
           [B] The Making of Of Bodies of Elements, Dancing Earth: 
           [C] Let it play - Bloco da Laje Carnival 2020 -

          Saturday, 28 August 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-3)

          15—Making "Cultura Popular Brasileira": Experiences in Conversation [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Based on collaborative research experiences, this panel explores the entanglements of multiple actors involved in the making of "cultura popular brasileira," such as artists and practitioners, intellectuals, public administrators and official representatives, state and non-profit institutions, tourism, culture, and music industries, etc. We will focus on different experiences related to the universes of forró and carimbó, two significant cases of regional musical traditions that became known nationwide. In different ways, forró and carimbó trigger senses of "cultura popular" and Brazilianess. They are two of several popular and traditional manifestations appropriated during the first half of the twentieth century by hegemonic narratives to build a stereotypical imaginary of Brazil and its people. Beyond their important parallels, these universes also present us with significant differences regarding their historical and contemporary relations with the cultural industry, the academy, and the State. They are living practices which, through several non-conformant experiences, provide an arena of great contentions that decentre power hierarchies and challenge puristic categories usually taken as given.

          Presented as a conversation, this panel juxtaposes forró and carimbó universes, histories, and experiences. It also brings together artists and researchers from Brazil and the US with different perspectives vis-à-vis national and regional belongings, races, classes, genders, and professional statuses. Lorena Muniagurria (São Paulo, BR), an anthropologist investigating cultural activism and public policies, discusses the main role artists and other makers had in the formulation and implementation of Brazilian cultural policy. Focusing on the case of carimbó, her paper challenges the given notions of “the State” and “state policies,” blurring the boundaries and revealing the multiple actors, practices, and knowledges involved in the making of "cultura popular brasileira". Priscila Duque (Pará, BR), a musician, performer, and bandleader of the group Carimbó Cobra Venenosa, discusses the subversive and feminist performance of Cobra Venenosa, which denounces the Brazilian elites’ deep-seated internal colonialism. By investing in a contemporary Amazonian, Black, Indigenous, and peripheral aesthetic, her presentation develops notions of rootedness that encompass transformations. Michael Silvers (Illinois, USA), an ethnomusicologist working on sound and materiality, will examine the political and material stakes of the naming of cultural practices through the example of the word forró. Following controversy surrounding the word both in Portuguese and in English translations, he considers the ubiquitous but unequal consequences of capitalism as they pertain to sound ontologies. Francisco DiFreitas (Ceará, BR), a musician/rabequeiro, instrument maker and educator, discusses the challenges of making culture in Cariri, home to many of forró’s roots. He assesses the current demands of arts advocacy in his work with other local mestres and in arts education with vulnerable communities.

          Dialogues between different subjects, their knowledges, and traditions that strive toward more symmetrical relations can simultaneously reveal and question power hierarchies that have shaped the universes of "cultura popular brasileira." By bringing together presenters who occupy different positions in the contemporary Brazilian musical and cultural field (researchers/researched; academy/non-academy; centre/periphery; Global and National North/South), this panel aims to explore the decolonizing potential of collaborative experiences.

          Saturday, 11 September 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC+0)

          16—Kopi One! How to Ownself-Check-Ownself: Chatting about Singaporean/Chinese privilege in the Lion City and Beyond [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Format: Live Zoom meeting + parallel interactive pre/post-sessional visualisations on, involving as wide participation as possible from the ICTM audience whom we will invite beforehand to respond to posts of short texts/visuals/audio clips. Our interactive storytelling approach specifically platforms alternative and experimental narratives. In calling our session Kopi One! How to ownself-check-ownself, we also actively decolonize academic performative-intellectual tropes, ways of expression, and linguistic methodologies.

          Facilitators: Soultari Amin FaridGene LaiJarrod SimAlicia de SilvaShzr Ee Tan plus invited interlocuting guests (tbc). A month prior to the event, and a month after, we will send out prompts on a specially designed site to encourage the virtual equivalent of Southeast Asian-style “coffeeshop talk” across timezones and geographies.

          Description of proposed session:

          The topic of privilege is one that crosses most conversations about race, class, gender, and politics. Parallel to the ongoing discourses about decolonization as shaped by now global movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and the ever-urgent need to highlight the voices of marginalized peoples, Singapore in 2020 is equally faced with critiques regarding its colonial hangover and tokenistic treatment of minority and migrant peoples.

          Using the online padlet as a communication medium, we hope to provide a tool in which conversations and pointers are not merely fleeting verbalizations but also documented collaboratively. Via text/audio/visual prompts and responses on, presenters will begin non-linear conversations with each other, but also invite general members of the ICTM community to weigh in on the complexities of Chinese privilege (however defined) in music practice and research. We see such (gentle or otherwise) provocations and interventions as ways to destabilize hierarchies and authorial speech as acts of decolonization too! Activities and talking points generated by these posts/interactions/contributions will first be consolidated in our proposed two-hour panel. But we hope these sharing sessions will continue beyond the official ICTM dialogue as we continue to update the site with future responses for a month, and maintain it for a year.

          Taking an intersectional approach to understanding decolonization through layered histories and political hierarchies of neo/coloniality, we interrogate the “elephant-in-the-room” issue of Chinese/ Singaporean privilege in Southeast Asia and beyond. We target the making of music as well as research communities in themselves. Particularly, we look at both postcolonial and neocolonial positionalities of musicians and scholars who are able to, as well as not, access the oft-described socio-economic (and in some cases politico-hegemonic) privilege of an ethnic Chinese and/or Singaporean background however this may be defined–whether transnational Chinese in Southeast Asia vs Europe, or Malay/Eurasian in Singapore, or China-passport-holding in the Global North and South. Additionally, we locate these discussions within divergent understandings of precolonial, postcolonial, and decolonial Southeast Asia as maritime cultures in flux, as opposed to static island or regional “blocs”. On a practical level, for example, intersectionalities operating at all stages of music-making and research, from the politicized choice of research subject to access to educational infrastructure/research and conference funding, and situational hierarchies formed between consultant/collaborators and researcher/practitioners in the field will be interrogated. Some of the more awkward questions we ask include: 

          • How do Singaporean researchers and musicians locate themselves geo-culturally in Southeast Asia?
          • Are there reasons to think Singaporean/Chinese music practitioners/researchers act with “entitlement” in Southeast Asia/beyond?
          • How has adopting English as a working language affected the way Singaporeans self-identify and how do other Southeast Asian countries view it?
          • How do music practitioners and researchers who identify as transnational/ethnic Chinese understand their own intersectional privilege locally as well as regionally? How do these dynamics run with/against old and new projections of the “Yellow Peril” amidst the rise of China as a politico-economic force?   
          • What is it like to work/practice/research music as a non-Chinese person in a Chinese hegemonic environment?
          • How does a Singaporean conduct fieldwork in other Southeast Asian nations, and how is this affected by the affordability that comes with a higher currency?
          • How aware is the Singaporean/Chinese researcher of their place of privilege in the field and the “perks”/conveniences of their nationality/race as privileged Asian?
          • How aware is the Singaporean/Chinese Singaporean of the issues pertaining to privilege in their home country as opposed to their field (if elsewhere in the region)?

          Saturday, 25 September 2021, 12:30–2:30 pm (UTC+0)

          17—Reading Together in a Far-Reaching Community: Applying Decolonization to Practice [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Speakers in this dialogue session share a common feature: all belong to a grassroots, online, global ethnomusicology reading group (ERG). Members range from MA students to professors who gather weekly as a community of practice. Participants share an interest in ethnomusicology and associated disciplines, and they meet to improve their critical skills. The ERG is guided by a single principle: accessibility for all.

          Since 2016, the co-chairs have prepared reading lists for varied themes, regions, and musical practices. In 2020, however, we recognized the glaring absence of scholars from beyond the Euro-American academic systems; our omission was made more conspicuous by the regular attendance of participants from Nigeria, Sudan, India, and Indonesia. As UK-educated white scholars, we painfully recognized our role in dictating what is of academic value as well as our complicity in replicating power structures in higher education.

          To start this dialogue, the ERG co-chairs introduce its activities and guiding principle. Acknowledging that Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour (BIPOC) ethnomusicologists are doing the heavy lifting affecting systemic change, we consider our positionality in relation to challenging the universality of academic outputs by white researchers. In particular, we critically assess our curation of a reading list of works by academics from low- and middle-income countries and decision to make under-represented scholars (i.e., BIPOC) integral to our future reading lists–processes intended to better reflect the community that we serve.

          Thereafter, our panellists discuss how the issues raised in 2020 ERG sessions–the researcher and the researched, academics’ links to non-academics, the university and its relationship with the community, and positionality–affect their ethnomusicological research:

          In the first presentation and musical performance, Sajith Vijayan (Mizhavu percussionist and performer) and Karin Bindu (Austrian percussionist and ethnomusicologist) examine the South Indian visual sacrifice Kutiyattam. They reflect how both visiting scholars and performers from Kerala approach research methods differently, including mutual recognition, criticism, inspiration, and collaborative potential. Kate Walker autoethnographically critiques her participation in a large-scale programme delivered by Asian-American taiko players in direct response to Black Lives Matter. She considers how race, ethnicity, and gender affect players’ everyday lives as well as their musical and social participation in taiko. By sharing a collaborative performance, she considers why the burden falls on BIPOC players (who form the majority of community members) to challenge the status quo. Abel Marcel Calderon Arias and Hannah Bates reflect upon the roles of dialogue and listening, both with one-another as teacher-student, intellectuals, researchers, musicians and friends, and with a wider circle of interlocutors on their individual research and musical paths.  Through their reflections, they engage with ideas of insider-/outsider-ness, orality versus literacy, and “official” versus erased narratives, and the parts such issues play in applying decolonization to practice.

          Collectively, we challenge long-standing, outdated methods and approaches to sharing knowledge that reinforce hegemonic powers in our discipline. Moreover, the co-chairs conclude with a brief discussion of what initiatives like the ERG can do to promote allyship and dismantle a grassroots corner of the academy.

          Supplementary materials:

          Saturday, 9 October 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC+1)

          18—Decolonizing African Compositions: Deconstructing the Theory and Practice Using Traditional Models [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          The most extreme form of colonization in Africa has been in the underlying or hidden institutional colonization that constitutes internal systems affecting music-making and its compositional practices founded on Christianity and colonial educational models. Today, “the continuing influence of Eurocentric cultural models privileging the imported over the Indigenous: colonial languages over local languages; writing over orality” (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 2007:57) have set up hegemonic systems that “reveal the deep, unresolved, and false dichotomy between theory and practice, which in turn points to other troubling questions lurking in the shadows of our colonized minds and societies: who has the authority to speak, think, and act? Which voices are actively silenced? How do we change this equation of power?” (Stanton, 2018:7). With the growing exclusion and loss of identity in musical studies of Africa as a result of epicolonial dynamics in music education and knowledge production in, of, with, and for Africa, we propose an inclusiveness (Global North/South) that will promote relics of precolonial musicking cultures that have been recovered in their pristine or near pristine form, and standing on the contemporary mode of expression in compositions. But considering that colonization’s tumultuous disordering and transformation has moved between inner, epistemic spaces and outer, materialspaces in the theory and practice of composition; we argue that decolonization will entail political and normative ethics and practice of resistance and intentional undoing–unlearning and dismantling unbalanced practices, assumptions, and institutions–as well as persistent positive action to create and build alternative spaces, networks, and ways of knowing that transcend our epicolonial inheritance (see Kessi, Marks and Ramugondo, 2020). 

          With the aforementioned issues, our highlights will include how to: 1) address the lopsided system of knowledge production and transfer that has been promoted because “music is universal”; 2) create a system that supports the growth and sustainability of Indigenous music whose internal socio-religious/cultural systems have been marginalized and allows them to be reintegrated; 3) advocate for a Special Edition monograph on decolonization that accepts cultural identity diversities (the Town/Gown Synergy) in compositional outputs and discourses including theoretical postulations; and 4) restructure the uneven pedagogical principles that will synergize with acceptable models in the global arena toward building bridges across theoretical chasms, and creating strategies for globalizing resistance from below. 

          Our summation of these highlights the fact that most aspects of the written compositional practices in Nigeria draw from Western norms and demonstrates that we must deploy an intentional approach to reverse this trend. With the ICTM dialogues, the decolonizing strategies should give adequate voices to the rich musical compositional resources of Africa.

          Statement: Our proposal aligns with the dialogues’ critical rethinking of the universal theory and practice of composition and the Global North/South hierarchies using Nigerian Indigenous models.

          List of session components:

          1. Is creativity possible in Nigerian/African Music?
          2. Conventions and principles in compositional practice
          3. Traditional harmonic models in compositional practice
          4. Oral-written synergy in compositions

          Organizer/Presenters: Ukeme A. Udoh, Johnson J. Akpakpan, Charles Mandor Asenye, Boniface Akpan Inyang, Christian Onyeji


          • Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, [2000] 2007. “Decolonization” in Post-Colonial Studies - The Key Concepts, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
          • Kessi, Shose, Zoe Marks, and Elelwani Ramugondo. 2020. “Decolonizing African Studies”, Critical African Studies, 12(3): 271-282.
          • Stanton, Burke. 2018. “Musicking in the Borders toward Decolonizing Methodologies.” Philosophy of Music Education Review, 26(1):4-23.

          Saturday, 23 October 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-5)

          19—The Necessity of a Decolonial Frame: Undoing the Inscriptions of Colonial Modernity in the Study of Sikh Musical Traditions [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Decolonizing ethnomusicology is neither a sudden nor an isolated phenomenon (Pettan and Titon 2019; Bhambra et al 2018). Compelling reflections on the colonial past and authority of the discipline have been advanced since the 1990s (Stobart 2008; Van der Meer 2005; Barz and Cooley 1997) in an attempt to delink (ethno)musicology from Eurocentred knowledge and “dismantle the singularity of hegemony” (Bohlman 2008). Only recently, though, has research focused on decolonial discourses been established in ways that honour the plurality of indigenous epistemologies and their alternative histories. The four participants in this panel have pioneered new approaches to the study of Sikh traditions, including musical heritage, by introducing decolonial stances in their scholarship, praxis, activism, teaching, and performance. Established in the late fifteenth century by Gurū Nānak, Gurbānī sangīt (the body of Sikh devotional repertoires) is an underrepresented area in the field of South Asian music studies. While Indian and Western scholarship marginalized the “music” of the Sikh “minority” by categorizing its repertoires as regional variants of classical and devotional genres of Hindustani music (Beck 2010; Sanyal and Widdess 2004), the assimilative forces of nationalism and globalization contributed to conform Gurbānī sangīt to neo-traditional standards. Disengaging the inscriptions of colonial modernity, the panellists examine the process of homogenization and coercive transformation of Sikh devotional repertoires formed by a mimetic internalization of modern Indian and Western musical genres. What would it mean to deconstruct these foreign impositions and recover, if at all possible, intangible heritage? Hailing from diverse disciplines and experiences, the presenters weave an intersectional canvas in which “music” is not constrained by an abstracted ambit; rather, sonic practices are seen as privileged viewpoints to articulate a critique of colonial modernity and Western universalism. Enshrining an ecology of knowledges (Santos 2014), inclusive of heterodox voices, the early Sikh music literature is in fact indicative of an entire cultural system based–according to the first speaker–on an epistemic pluriversality (Mignolo and Walsh 2018). The concept of “pluriversality” is further explored by the second panellist, along with other key decolonial terms such as “cognitive empire,” “coloniality of power,” “enunciation,” “exteriority,” “border-knowledges,” and “epistemic reconstruction.” The latter, in particular, is the object of the work of the third presenter, who is a 13th-generation exponent and a revivalist of Gurbānī sangīt. As explained, certain Indigenous knowledges and practices still preserve the integrity of the Gur-Sikh vision, highlighting new areas of research that may challenge accepted Western histories. The complex and divergent approaches within the renaissance of “traditional Sikh music” are critically argued by the last speaker, reflecting how the memory, pedagogy, and practice of Gurbānī sangīt offer a transformative pedagogy as a dynamic living process that decolonizes the Sikh self toward a sovereign identity. With focus on the Sikh musical heritage, and the ecology of indigenous knowledges that it preserved, this project aims to contribute to the ICTM Dialogues advancing the discussion on the impact of colonial modernity on marginalized traditions of South Asia, which in turn reveals the necessity of radically rethinking ethnomusicological readings of underrepresented cultures through a decolonial frame.

          Organizer/Presenters: Francesca Cassio, Balbinder Singh Bhogal, Bhai Baldeep Singh, Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa Baker

          Saturday, 30 October 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC+ 1)

          20—Decolonizing Tunisian Mālūf: Articulation and Struggles in the French-Tunisian Matrix of Power [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          This panel focuses on how Tunisian mālūf has become a part of processes of power and national authority since the French protectorate (1881). Throughout the twentieth century, this musical genre underwent a process of redefinition, from oral transmission to transmission via Western notation (Guetta, 2000; Davis, 2002, 2004). The various volumes of transcriptions, in particular, afforded the repertoire a status to compete with Western canons by making it a permanent fixture in people’s lives, while mālūf had incorporated a more complex entity of forms, social milieus, and cultural identities. The panel will review ways in which this North African genre has been constructed and discussed in Western and Arab musicological literature, and offer a new perspective by examining the tension between French colonials and Tunisian natives, the public and intimate discourses. We develop the concept of “decoloniality” (Mignolo and Walsh 2018) as an antidote to the formalism of cultural colonialism that has risen in Tunisia since the French occupation (1881), and as a form of struggle and survival against the “colonial matrix of power.” To what extent did mālūf embody Tunisian identity during the period of colonialism? And how has this been constructed and negotiated in the post-colonial period? 

          Anas Ghrab will introduce an historical sketch of how mālūf has been investigated in Tunisian musicology since the 1920s. Ghrab’s presentation will reconsider Rodolphe d’Erlanger and Ḥasan Ḥusnī ʿAbdalwahhāb roles within Tunisian musicological research and will develop a critique of certain strands of nationalised heritage beginning in the 1970s. Myriem Lakhoua will introduce the struggles of safeguarding mālūf in the twentieth century and the passage from oral to written transmission that it underwent in academia. As Tunisian music scholars, they will further illustrate the current state of the musicological curriculum in Tunisian academia. Salvatore Morra will present a new source that encourages us to decolonize the history of Tunisian mālūf: the women’s periodical Leīla(1936–1941). The application of Leīla’s articles offers new readings of music-making during the colonial period, which rethink the Western notion of “classical”music that mālūf carries. In conclusion, the dialogue will explore how Tunisian musicians contributed significantly to a national resistance against colonial rule by employing a musical reading of Tunisian self-determination.  

          Saturday, 13 November 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC-3)

          21—CucumbisJongo, and Samba de Partido Alto: Sounds from the African Diaspora in Rio de Janeiro [ CANCELLED ]

          Our proposal presents research carried out by different members of the Laboratory of Orality and African Memory and the Diaspora, at the Rio de Janeiro State University. With different temporal and spatial cuts, the researchers deal with the memories and the celebrations of Central Africans who were brought in a forced way to Brazil, since the sixteenth century, as slaves. Through newspapers, the first work investigates groups formed by Central Africans in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the early nineteenth century. They organized funeral processions for Black kings, accompanied by music and dances, known as cucumbis. In the middle of the nineteenth century these funerals disappeared and inspired new forms of celebration. Instead of accompanying funerals, the celebrations of the Cucumbisstarted to take place during the carnival period, making way for Carnival Cucumbis. Through oral history, the second presentation analyzes the contemporary practices of jongo, a way of talking to the ancestors by dancing, drumming, and singing in traditional communities in Rio de Janeiro. This research, still under development, seeks to understand the construction of a new form of political action that comprises bodies, voices, and songs as places of memory, and the way of the jongueiros (practitioners of jongo) to keep the culture of their ancestors alive. Finally, the paper on samba de partido alto will present this practice of vocal challenge between two or more singers/composers accompanied by clapping, percussive instruments, and collective singing of the song’s chorus. Making use of ethnographic methodology, this research shows that the presence of responsive singing, the kind of voices of singers, and composition in action (“improvisation”), hindered samba de partido alto from becoming part of the idea of samba that belongs to national memory (which incorporated elements of whiteness). The themes researched here present experiences in which Black bodies and voices in celebrations exhibit and diffuse memories in a counter-hegemonic way of explaining/living the world. Proposing alternative forms of life, these festivities are presented as places where we fight against structural racism still in effect in Brazilian society.

          Organizer/Presenters: Denise Barata, Thaise Rezende Lima, Danielle Souza Coutinho

          Saturday, 27 November 2021, 1–3 pm (UTC+0)

          22—"Who Are We Through Our Music?” Shifting Identities on the Journey from the Soviet Empire to Independent Nations [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Within music across the former Soviet Union, the process of establishing particular national identities and the challenge of separating from the cultural history of the USSR can be likened to a relationship of decolonization. The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, producing fifteen new nation-states—a set of republics from which these four panellists originate—which to this day are still engaged in establishing themselves economically, politically, and culturally. Specifically, their culture, art, and music are still distinctly experiencing the challenge of separating from the “big brother” that was the USSR. 

          Central Asian jazz festivals that recently appeared in Almaty (2003), Bishkek (2006), Dushanbe (2009), and Tashkent (2015)—supported by various international organisations and embassies, and performed by musicians from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—have promoted not only jazz music but helped to develop the characteristic fusion of jazz and Central Asian musical traditions. Playing ethnojazz, based on the local sound effects,  those musicians had developed mutual understanding and joy overcoming the national and ethnic conflicts still existing in Central Asia. 

          Current Kazakh ethnomusicology borrows much from its Soviet past. During the Soviet era, the studies of such local traditions as baqsylyq (shaman), dhikr (Sufi devotional rite), aitys (poet-singers’ competition), dombyra shertpe kui (East Kazakhstan kui tradition), were either forbidden due to Soviet propaganda or considered without merit. Only in the last three decades, have Kazakh scholars Saida Yelemanova, Bazaroly Muptekeev, Zhibek Kozhakhmetova, Saule Utegalieva, and others been able to initiate studies of pure authentic traditions. 

          The religious musical culture of the Ural-Volga Russian Muslims (Tatars and Bashkirs) underwent total destruction in the Soviet era due to a strict atheist policy. Islam is a major cultural factor for the Muslim people of the area. Islamic revival is currently taking place under a double influence: the local pentatonic style combined  with the canonical Arabic modes in Qur’anic recitation, and Muslim rap features in religious chants. 

          The current image of Russia has greatly changed due to millions of migrant workers arriving from Central Asia. They have brought with them their cultural values and Islamic way of life, which has impacted these cities in a variety of ways. The influx of the new migrant population in Russia numbers up to 1.2 million in Moscow and 1 million in St. Petersburg, making them the biggest Muslim cities in Europe. New sounds, particularly at times of religious holidays, such as Ramadan, have resulted in an abundance of Uzbek, Kyrgyz, and Caucasian cafés and restaurants, giving rise to live music performances on the streets, in bazaars, or in theatres, and concert halls. 

          The aim of our co-authored panel is to explore a new methodology to examine the musical situation in the post-Soviet space, to answer the questions: Which performance and musical research in the post-Soviet space reflect on social diversity and power hierarchies?  What progress has been made to further social justice? To what extent has indigenous knowledge on music been legitimised and differentiated from the dominating colonial power of the former USSR?

          Organizer/Presenters: Razia Sultanova, Valeriya Nedlina, Kanykei Mukhtarova, Zilia Imamutdinova

          Saturday, 4 December 2021, 10 am–12 pm (UTC- 6)

          23—MULTÍLOGOS: Knitting Together Our Movement Network (Vernos a Nosotros Mismos) [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Since 2019, a team of four Latin American researchers, dance artists, and Choreomundus alumni have met to open a gate for sharing dance knowledge. Buscamos/We seek ways of co-constructing and disseminating knowledge in a horizontal way that is accessible to the Spanish-speaking world, provoking inner dialogues, and cross-pollinating encounters between sectors with different levels of professionalization. We aim to recognize the value of all research and artistic achievements within the Latin American context. (Personas que muchas veces son invisibilizadas por la institución académica).

          The name of our project is MULTÍLOGOS, a bi-weekly webinar about dance, corporealities, and movement. With an open call once a year, we invite our Spanish-speaking audience to share their reflections and artistic endeavours through talks, interviews, debates, panels or performative lectures. Each modality of sharing include a time dedicated to asking questions and giving feedback. The wide spectrum of these dialogues and listening to other realities is a collective skill that we have developed and carried, both as a method and as a goal.

          Each of the four organizing members of MULTÍLOGOS will share an aspect of the webinar: 

          • Community-development: Who are the people who join the webinar? Through our own demographic analysis of MULTÍLOGOS outreach, we will show the diversity of geographies and modalities of sharing knowledge. We conceive MULTÍLOGOS as a circle of multiple locations, connected by diverse threads of thought and action. 
          • Contents of this knowledge space: Grounded on a big mattress of connections, confrontations, and co-constructions, we trace transversal axes in a rhizomatic path along several topics. We will outline four topics that have appeared recurrently in the webinar: diasporic identities, gender relations, dance and technology, and First Nations approaches to dance. 
          • Enactment of decoloniality: We claim that altering the paths and circulation of knowledge has a decolonial potential that creates a space for approaches from the Global South. Thus, we strongly believe that the biggest treasures lay in the plurality of voices, accents, gestures, and many times, diverse points of view and political positions, according to relationships that Western theories would have never dreamed of. We want to observe this net of affects and collective knowledge through a prism of what Mignolo (2020) identifies as “la pluriversidad y complementariedad de saberes”. 
          • Dialogue in itself as an epistemic practice: Throughout discussions about embodied activities, we value the epistemic dimension arising from the participants and the different realities of the Spanish-speaking territories that they stem from. Anchored in Paulo Freire’s conception of learning, we maintain that listening and speaking generates knowledge. (Aquello que al hacerse, crea, origina conocimiento)

          Organizer/Presenters: Beatriz Herrera Corado, Raymundo Ruiz González, Maria Peredo Guzmán, Jorge Poveda Yánez 


          Saturday, 11 December 2021, 10 am–12 pm

          24—Towards Decolonization of the Curricula in Nigerian Musical Arts Education [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

          Nigeria's post-colonial educational systems are based extensively on models and structures inherited from the European colonialists. Over time, these systems have produced graduates who, acculturated by Eurocentric curricula contents, are typically inadequately prepared to effectively address the peculiar socio-economic and ethno-cultural challenges of the country. Although many of the music education curricula, especially at the tertiary level, are conceived as bi-musical, with the intention of grounding the students/graduates in African cultural paradigms while also preparing them for the global work environment, they are often heavily skewed, in practice, towards European and American music. Okafor (1991) affirms this when he notes that "the syllabus of the educational system, the curriculum content, and the philosophy and thrusts of the institutions which teach music place emphasis on Western music" (63). Okafor (1992) further expresses concern on this situation, adding that: “An examination of music education in Nigeria presents the observer with an immediate and glaring anomaly. The focus of music education itself appears to be on Western music, music transplanted or introduced into the culture of indigenous Nigeria from an outside culture“ (8-9).

          Considering that “music” is not a standalone concept in indigenous African worldviews, nor is there a unique term for music in most indigenous African languages, the continued use of the term “music education” in the Nigerian context exposes ignorance of, or perhaps, even disdain for, Nigeria's indigenous epistemological paradigms. Perhaps this ignorance and/or disdain is at the root of the continued preponderance of colonial influences on the musical arts curricula in Nigeria. Such curricula, without adequate grounding in a Nigerian indigenous ethos and pathos, typically fail to engender "virtuous humanity disposition" (Nzewi 2019: 19) vis-à-vis "human cogitations, productions, relationships, and actions" (ibid), which ground African indigenous musical arts education and practice. Although there has been increasing consciousness about, and efforts towards, decolonizing the musical arts education in Nigeria, there is still a lack of consensus on what exactly this decolonization would entail. This necessitates continued, focused dialogue and interactions among regulators, educators, and practitioners towards reforming the musical arts curricula to better address the needs of Nigerian society.

          Grounded in theories of constructivism, convention and identity, and transformative learning, our discussion session will interrogate the colonial structures in, and influences on, Nigerian music arts curricula. Employing data from participant observation and focus group discussions, we elucidate the retarding impacts of colonial artefacts on the effectiveness of current Nigerian musical arts curricula. Furthermore, we advocate revision of these curricula for enhanced indigenous culture sensitivity and developmental relevance.

          Organizer/Presenters: Esinkuma James AmaebeGlory Nnam, Anthony Okoro, Nturem Masiakek, Pere Fatai, Marie Agatha Ozah