Canadian Society for Traditional Music Keynote Lecture: Doing our Essential Work
October 24, 2020, 8:00-9:30 PM, Society for Ethnomusicology Virtual Annual Meeting
Abstract | The global pandemic, racial injustice, economic pain, and the climate crisis are, at the time of writing, the most immediate, interrelated and compounding phenomena that define the present moment. I hazard that one experience humans share today is regular confrontation with how very much we do not, but desperately need, to know. Every day, it seems, we learn new things about the novel coronavirus, institutionalized white supremacy, which workers are essential and why, how to wash our hands and wear a mask, and… the list goes on. We cannot afford to ignore new information or its demands that we change our behaviour – the price of ignorance and inaction is far too high.
These are also days when many North American participants in the expansive, contradictory field of practice and study still known as ethnomusicology are questioning who, how and what we teach, learn, and produce. Present challenges to the ethnomusicological status quo are informed by and participant in each of the crises listed above, which lay bare preexisting and amplified structural inequalities across settings and scales. Who is centred and why? Which ways of knowing and communicating are privileged or sidelined? How are even the good-intentioned complicit in a host of failings, some of which we only perceive when those we have failed bring it to our attention? We need to learn and, based on this information, we need to act. Continuing self-reflection, self-education, and implementation is this moment’s essential work.
Faculty of Music Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup
In summer 2020 I served as co-chair (with Prof. Aiyun Huang) of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music’s Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Workgroup. The Workgroup was tasked with formulating recommendations for institutional transformation in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the many calls to actions and letters the Faculty of Music received from its students, alumni, staff, and faculty. In September 2020, the Faculty of Music’s Faculty Council voted to establish the Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Committee as a permanent part of our governance. While there is much more to do, I am proud of the work my colleagues and I were able to accomplish. A summary of our work and the Faculty of Music’s strategies is available here.
Distribute 2020: The Biennial Conference of the Society for Cultural Anthropology and Society for Visual Anthropology
Time: May 7-9, 2020
In partnership with UC Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Center for Social Transformation, the University of Toronto is digitally hosting Distribute 2020. This is an “international experiment in carbon-conscious, radically distributed conferencing.” I am proud to play a small part in organizing this inspiring event at U of T. For archived panels and much more, see https://distribute.utoronto.ca.
Rhythms of Social Change: Time, Rhythm & Pace in Performance January 7, 2017
Occupy Wall Street Protest in front of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s apartment building. Manhattan, NY, 2011. Photograph by Farzaneh Hemmasi.
Rhythms of Social Change was an interdisciplinary symposium of University of Toronto faculty and graduate students intended to stimulate scholarly exchange on the interrelationships between time, rhythm, and pace in performance and social movements, broadly defined. Among the questions we ask are, Why is performance so often tasked with evincing rupture with the past and creating a new era? How do artists and the arts perform and even advance the pace of social change? And how are the rhythmic and temporal aspects of music, dance, and theatre implicated in political communication? The symposium was supported by the Jackman Humanities Institute Program on the Arts and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.
Link to symposium website
12:30 PM | Panel 1 Social Change & Performance in North America
Karyn Recollet |Assistant Professor in the Institute for Women and Gender Studies
GESTURING INDIGENOUS FUTURITIES THROUGH THE REMIX
Gabriela Jiménez | PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology
REPARATIVE RHYTHMS: VERSIONING MEXICANIDAD AND PERFORMING MEXICAN ENOUGH THROUGH REGGAETÓN IN CONTEMPORARY MEXICO CITY
Seika Boye | Director, Centre for Dance & Instructor,Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies
DANCING OVER THE SLOW PACE OF CHANGE: AFRICAN CANADIAN DANCE VENUES IN MID-CENTURY TORONTO
2:45 | Panel 2 Rhythm & Revolution
Xing Fan | Assistant Professor of Asian Theatre and Performance Studies
PERFORMING THE RHYTHMS OF MODERNITY IN CHINESE REVOLUTIONARY THEATRE
Polina Dessianitchenko | PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology
NATIONAL IN FORM, SOCIALIST IN CONTENT: CIVILIZING THE TEMPORALITY OF MUGHAM IN SOVIET AZERBAIJAN
Farzaneh Hemmasi | Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology
NEW TIME, NEW RHYTHM: SONIC & POLITICAL CHANGE IN 20TH CENTURY IRANIAN MUSIC
4:30 | Panel 3 Social & Musical Movements in East Asia
Yurou Zhong | Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies
THE RHYTHMS OF CLASS-CONSCIOUSNESS: THE CASE OF THE CHINESE NEW WORKERS ART MOVEMENT
Nate Renner | PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology
TRADITIONAL AINU MUSIC IN CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE ENVIRONMENTALISM
Joshua Pilzer | Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology
DISABILITY, MUSIC, MOVEMENT & ACTIVISM AMONG KOREAN RADIATION SUFFERERS: THE RHYTHMS OF SURVIVAL
Critical Approaches to Middle East Studies:
Subjects, Culture, Political Formations | 2016-2017
In 2016, Dr. Jairan Gahan, Prof. Sara Saljoughi, Alia O’Brien and I initiated a Working Group on Critical Approaches to Middle East Studies with the support of U of T’s Jackman Humanities Institute.
Description | This working group investigates the creation of ethical subjects, political formations, digital culture, and cultural production in dialogue with ongoing debates in contemporary Islam. The twentieth and twenty-first century have seen the constant remaking of Middle Eastern states, a process that is always also predicated upon cultural transformation and new conceptualizations of ideal subjects. Today, some 40 years since the 1970s-era “Islamic Revival” and five years beyond the Arab Uprisings, is an ideal moment to observe how Islamic counterpublics have formed and reformed in a spectrum of relationships to changing states, institutions, and communicative media, both within nation-states and in diaspora. We are interested in tracing how “Islamic values” have been (re)conceptualized and deployed in cultural production of all kinds, and how discourses of ethical subjecthood and citizenship have emerged as both preconditions and effects of political-cultural projects of social transformation.
Readings include Hossein Agrama, Talal Asad, Lara Deeb, Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Mona Harb, Charles Hirschkind, Saba Mahmoud, Kamran Rastegar, & Samuli Schielke.