Sound Matters: The SEM Blog

The official blog by the Society for Ethnomusicology

Disciplinary intervention for a practice of ethnomusicology


The statement below—signed voluntarily by practitioners of ethnomusicology in April 2017—builds on disciplinary concerns that music and sound scholars past and present have identified. It affirms the need to move beyond narrative debates and toward structural change in music institutions, toward enacting justice. The primary authors of this statement intend it to be a living document that cultivates discussion and stimulates proposals of concrete measures that can redress institutionalized inequities.

This statement has grown out of nearly a year and a half of discussion and writing. The authors intend it to generate conversation and action. Please sign using this form, providing your name and institution if you are comfortable doing so, or your initials or “Anonymous” with no institutional affiliation. To sign, you will need to scroll past all the previous names to enter yours as prompted. Signatory list will be updated daily. Response essays are welcome for consideration for publication by Sound matters.

This statement calls for active change in the practices of ethnomusicology. We believe we must critically engage with current modes of systemic violence, working collectively toward the goal of comprehensive transformation. We support a radical restructuring of professional societies, academic publications, and the multiple spaces in which ethnomusicology occurs.

This is a declaration of commitment to changing the academic structures that deny many scholars full inclusion in their fields. We gratefully and respectfully acknowledge those who have risked placing their careers, safety, and well-being in jeopardy waging these battles. Proceeding from a framework of intersectionality that understands all forms of oppression as inextricably linked, we encourage all scholars to consider their positions within these systems of inequity. At a political moment when ethnomusicology is increasingly at risk, as are the bodies and well-being of its practitioners and participants, this work is urgent.

We state the following:

The call for inclusion itself issues from within a sphere of discourse constructed by systems of oppression that unequally renders audibility and visibility.

We recognize that modern academe—ethnomusicology included—is rooted and deeply embedded in colonial ideologies.

We acknowledge that the themes, techniques, theoretical approaches, and pedagogies valued in music institutions also devalue certain musicians, music cultures, and methodologies, and we believe this value structure is inherently unjust.

We are aware that the academic system continues to reaffirm old barriers to scholars of color and members of other marginalized communities, demands their visibility while rendering them inaudible, and assigns these scholars a disproportionate burden of institutional service and emotional labor.

We believe that tokenism and diversity rhetoric potentially mask and intensify structural inequity. The language of inclusion must be actualized and further actions should be taken in order to actually be more inclusive.

We see that contextualizing and minimizing microaggressions through discourses of political correctness obscures the reality of the daily struggle for personal and cultural survival faced by our students, classmates, friends, and coworkers.

As articulated in the SEM Position Statement in Response to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, we reaffirm our commitment to globally-engaged dialogue, scholarship, and advocacy. We believe the practices of ethnomusicology can work against racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny, sexism, heteronormativity and cisnormativity, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and war.

We pledge to:

Speak up when we observe systemic injustices. We recognize that it is not always safe to do so, and that individuals must assess potential risks before making a decision regarding whether or not to speak.

Not speak for people who are in epistemic positions different from our own.

Cultivate listening practices and create spaces for a multiplicity of voices.

Reflect on our own positionality and the inevitable biases arising from those positions. We listen thoughtfully when it is pointed out that our own biases and assumptions reinforce structural injustice.

Prioritize attention to intersectional oppressions over singular agendas that ultimately uphold structures of injustice. We seek to deploy our listening, writing, teaching practices, and service to challenge and reframe normative structures that restrict the liberatory potential of ethnomusicological work.

Require that societies and organizations to which we belong publish statements of institutional stance regarding the inclusion of, respect for, and safety of their members. This is not only a political matter: it is an ethical one that requires an explicitly articulated position.

Request that societies and institutions to which we belong ensure infrastructural support for individuals and communities facing issues of access based on citizenship, visa eligibility, mobility, and financial considerations.

Request that societies and organizations to which we belong divest their endowments from entities that maintain structures of oppression.

Request that societies and organizations to which we belong dedicate activities engaging social justice movements—for example, conferences or pre-conference symposia, section or group meetings, journal issues, concerts, and community outreach.

Request that societies and organizations to which we belong devote resources and attention to democratizing and horizontalizing representation within these societies.

If we are to expand meaningfully the narratives and practices of ethnomusicology, we must center marginalized perspectives and engage with current critical issues. We believe that these are our obligations in 2017.


Katherine Meizel, Bowling Green State University
Sidra Lawrence, Bowling Green State University
Denise Gill, Washington University in St. Louis
Evan Pensis, University of Chicago
Yun Emily Wang, University of Toronto
Chris Nickell, New York University
Natalia Bieletto, Universidad de Guanajuato
León F. García Corona, Northern Arizona University

Kyle Decoste, Columbia University
Tes Slominski, Beloit College
Jardena Gertler-Jaffe, University of Toronto
Max Katz, The College of William and Mary
Mary Natvig, Bowling Green State University
Gillian Rodger, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Nate Renner, University of Toronto
Susan Thomas, University of Georgia
Andrew Dell’Antonio, University of Texas, Austin
Samantha Bassler, Co-chair, AMS Music and Disability Study Group
Jason Busniewski, University of California, Santa Barbara
Lillie Gordon, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Jonathan Ritter, University of California Riverside
Sonja Downing, Lawrence University
Eve McPherson, Kent State University at Trumbull
Eric Hung, Westminster Choir College of Rider University
Nicol Hammond, University of California, Santa Cruz
Heidi Chan, York University
Justin R. Hunter, University of Arkansas
Dylan Robinson, Queen’s University
Ely Lyonblum, University of Cambridge
Beth Szczepanski, Whitman College
Tess J. Popper, Doctoral candidate, University of California Santa Barbara
Heather Bergseth
Bernard Ellorin, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Katie Graber, Ohio State University
Kara Attrep
Jack Harrison, University of Toronto
Edmundo Luna, Mokpo National University
Matt Sakakeeny, Tulane University
Ryan Persadie, University of Toronto
Owen Hubbard, University of Chicago
Christopher Witulski, Bowling Green State University
William Cheng, Dartmouth College
Julie Beauregard
Tanya Merchant, University of California, Santa Cruz
Jeremy Wallach, Bowling Green State University
Esther Clinton, Bowling Green State University
CJ Komp, University of Georgia
Grace Osborne, New York University
Andreja Vrekalić, Doctoral Candidate, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Croatia
Gisa Jähnichen, Shanghai
Nicholas Gareiss, Independent scholar
Steven Moon , University of Pittsburgh
David A. McDonald, Indiana University
Klisala Harrison, University of Helsinki
Mark Lomanno, Northeastern University
Laura Jorgensen, University of Texas at Austin
Jeremy Reed, Indiana University, Bloomington
Lisa Beebe, University of California, Santa Cruz
Luis-Manuel Garcia, University of Birmingham
Aliah Ajamoughli, Indiana University
Heather MacLachlan, University of Dayton
Anonymous, Detroit
Anthony W. Rasmussen, University of California, Riverside
Davin Rosenberg, University of California, Davis
Travis Stimeling, West Virginia University
Joseph C. Hickerson, Portland, Oregon
Megan E. Hill, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Jessica Schwartz, University of California, Los Angeles
Matthew Sumera, Hamline University
Donald James
Richard Emmert, Musashino University, Tokyo
Scott A. Carter, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Luis Chavez, University of California, Davis
Kendra Salois, American University, Washington DC
D. Akira Stadnicki , University of Alberta
Jorge Arévalo Mateus, Association for Cultural Equity, Hunter College
Rachel Tollett, PhD Candidate, Northwestern University
Kim Nucci, Graduate student, Mills College
Beto González, Los Angeles
Shannon Garland Columbia University
Hannah Adamy, University of California, Davis
Eleanor Lipat-Chesler, Los Angeles
Sarah Hankins, University of California, San Diego
Allison Adrian, St. Catherine University
Kathleen Kuo, Indiana University
Patrick Nickleson, University of Toronto
Corey Michael Blake Lascano, University of California, Riverside
Jonathon Bakan, Toronto
Michael Odle, Little Rock, AR
Dave Wilson, Victoria University of Wellington
John Vallier, University of Washington
Rachel Adelstein, University of Cambridge
Jeongin Lee, University of California, Davis
Muriel E Swijghuisen Reigersberg, The University of Sydney, Australia
Jordan Tani, University of California, Irvine
Jeremy W. Foutz, STEAM Workgroup Indianapolis, IN
Heather Buffington-Anderson, Claflin University
Noé Dinnerstein, John Jay College, CUNY
Bernd Brabec de Mori, University of Vienna
Amber Clifford-Napoleone, University of Central Missouri
Andrea Douglass, UMass Boston
Jennifer Fraser, Oberlin College
Evan Rapport, The New School
Marissa Moore, Yale University
Steve Waksman, Smith College
Alexandria Carrico, Florida State University
Tyler Bickford, University of Pittsburgh
Jeff Kaiser, University of Central Missouri
Gavin Douglas, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Gordon Thompson, Skidmore College
Nomi Dave, University of Virginia
Jeff Roy, Paris Sciences et Lettres
Nicole Reisnour, Cornell University
Anaar Desai-Stephens, Cornell University
Gage Averill, University of British Columbia
Christi-Anne Castro, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Eric Martin Usner
Eduardo Herrera, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Russell Skelchy
Daphne Carr, New York University
Hadi Milanloo, University of Toronto
Kariann Goldschmitt, Wellesley College
Ellen Koskoff, University of Rochester
Randal Baier, Eastern Michigan University
Nicholas Tochka, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne
Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University
Elizabeth K. Batiuk, Illinois State University
Katie Stuffelbeam, Boston University
Jennifer Milioto Matsue, Union College, Schenectady, NY
Eric J. Schmidt, University of California, Los Angeles
Amanda Modell, University of California, Davis
Ruth Mueller, Saint Louis University
Seyit Yöre, Istanbul University
Alex Blue V, University of California, Santa Barbara
Eliot Bates, City University of New York Graduate Center
Carol Silverman, University of Oregon
Ioannis Tsekouras
Kelley Kipperman, Mills College, Oakland, California
Nathan Bakkum, Columbia College Chicago
Gary Yerkins, Columbia College Chicago
Sunaina Keonaona Kale, University of California, Santa Barbara
Shayna Silverstein, Northwestern University
C. B. Henry, Independent Scholar
Adam Shead, University of Michigan
Carol Babiracki, Syracuse University
Jonathan Shannon, Hunter College/CUNY Graduate School
Anna Schultz, Stanford University
Karl J Haas, Berklee College of Music
Leslie C Gay Jr, University of Tennessee
Reinhard Straub, National Chung Hsing University
Molly McGlone, University of Pennsylvania
Shelley Zhang, University of Pennsylvania
Angela Glaros, Eastern Illinois University
Andrew Eisenberg, NYU Abu Dhabi
Shalini Ayyagari, University of Pittsburgh
Jack Vishneski, Minneapolis, MN
Jessie M. Vallejo, Cal Poly Pomona
Kristina Nielsen, UCLA
Alex Kreger, University of Texas at Austin
Michael O’Toole, University of Cincinnati
Sarah Riegler, Toronto
Leon Shernoff, Chicago
Lars Christensen, University of Minnesota
Fethi Karakecili, York University, Toronto
Mike Kohfeld, University of Washington
Liselotte Sels, Ghent University
Mehtap Demir , İstanbul University State Concervatory Ethnomusicology and Folklore Department
Tamara Levitz, UCLA
Angela Keats, Yukon.
Daniel Tan, Silicon Valley
Alex W. Rodriguez, UCLA
Hande Saglam, Department of Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology, MDW
Noriko Manabe, Temple University
Rachel Harris, SOAS, University of London
Eric Lewis, McGill University
Elizabeth Bynum, University of Pennsylvania
Miriam Piilonen, Northwestern University
Wade F. Dean, University of California, Los Angeles
Anna Farhan, New York University
Kathleen Wiens, Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Joel E. Rubin, University of Virginia
Maria Sonevytsky, Bard College
Scott Hanenberg, University of Toronto
Charles Sharp, California State Univ., Fullerton
Nancy Guy, Univ. of Calif., San Diego
Tamar Sella, Harvard University
Andrew Normann, Bowling Green State University
James Roberts, Toronto, Ontario
Marié Abe, Boston University, Boston MA
Otto Stuparitz , University of California, Los Angeles
Alia O’Brien, University of Toronto
Kathryn Metz, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Bhavisha Panchia, Memmingen
Madison Heying, University of California, Santa Cruz
Anonymous, New York City
Lauren E. Sweetman, New York University
Sandra Graham, Babson College
Ali Colleen Neff
Andrea Low, Auckland, New Zealand
Anonymous, Canada
Paris Thibault, Boston, MA
Gabriel Solis, University of Illinois
Ashley Hirt, Eastern Washington University
Jim Sykes, University of Pennsylvania
David Garcia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Paul Yoon, Virginia Commonwealth University
Kathleen Van Buren, University of Sheffield
Jessica A. Holmes, McGill/Montreal
Gavin Steingo, Princeton University
Jessica S. Baker, University of Chicago
Kiri Miller, Brown University
Glenda Goodman, University of Pennsylvania
Vijay Iyer, Harvard University
Amy Frishkey, Austin, TX
Meryl Krieger, Indiana University
Priscilla Tse, University of Illinois
Matthew E Knight, University of Illinois
Helen Gubbins, University of Sheffield
Ian Copeland, Harvard University
Catherine Grant, Griffith University, Australia
Peter McMurray, Harvard University
Henry Johnson, University of Otago
Anne K. Rasmussen, The College of William and Mary
Michael Iyanaga, Federal University of the Recôncavo in Bahia
Curtis Andrews, University of British Columbia
Jocelyn Moon, University of Washington
Ana María Alarcón Jiménez, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Joseph Maurer ,University of Chicago
Dean Reynolds, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Joshua Brown
Catherine M. Appert, Cornell University
Aaron Pettigrew, University of British Columbia
Daniel B. Reed, Indiana University
Solmaz Shakerifard, University of Washington, Seattle
Anonymous POC, UoW, S
Elizabeth Clendinning, Wake Forest University
Darci Sprengel, University of California, Los Angeles
Ioannis Tsioulakis, Queen’s University Belfast
Margaret Sarkissian, Smith College
Andrea F. Bohlman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Steven Spinner Terpenning, Colorado
Katherine Lee, University of California, Davis
Cornelius Holzer, MDW Vienna
Panayotis League, Harvard University
Kate Brucher, DePaul University
Anonymous, Oakland, CA
Beezer de Martelly, UC Berkeley
Nadia Chana, University of Chicago
Thalea Stokes, University of Chicago
Meredith Schweig, Emory University
Nil Basdurak, University of Toronto
Shana Goldin-Perschbacher, Temple University
Danielle Sirek, University of Windsor
Lindsay Wright, University of Chicago
Rebecca Bodenheimer, Independent scholar
Harris M. Berger, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Philip J Murphy Jr
Made Mantle Hood, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Andrea Emberly, York university
Joe Kinzer, University of Washington
James R. Cowdery, Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM)


3 thoughts on “Disciplinary intervention for a practice of ethnomusicology

  1. Pingback: Disciplinary Intervention for a Practice of Ethnomusicology | SEM Student Union

  2. Those interested in the values expressed here may like my article “There Is No They There” which includes a manifesto for cultural interaction. It is based on my work with contemporary composers in Indonesia. It appeared in MUSICWORKS 47 Summer 1990.


    PDF (with graphics):

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