A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO
The ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology met for a highly stimulating symposium in South Africa from 30 June – 4 July 2014. Due to generous arrangements of the Local Arrangements Committee chaired by Bernhard Bleibinger, about 50 symposium participants from Africa, Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia moved between venues at the University of Fort Hare in East London on the Eastern Cape, the university’s main campus in Alice, a Hogsback conference facility in the Amathole Mountains, and Grahamstown. The academic program focused on several themes, most prominently applied ethnomusicology and institutions, especially formal organizations, but also new research and applied work via digital media. This program and its applied activities—including a lecture-workshop-performance on Umngqokolo Overtone Singing asXhosa cultural heritage by Dave Dargie (who performed with the Ngqoko Group) as well as various applied activities organized by Local Arrangements—would not have been possible without the guidance of the Program Committee in which I was assisted by Anthony Seeger, Samuel Araújo, Britta Sweers and Bernhard Bleibinger. The symposium was special also in that it featured the first-ever keynote lecture for the study group, given by Angela Impey (SOAS, University of London) and titled “Mainstreaming Musical Knowledge into Development Practice: Thoughts, Theories and Trajectories from sub-Saharan Africa.” Impey’s keynote, funded by Local Arrangements, greatly enhanced critical thinking in the symposium on applied ethnomusicology for development and in Africa. Overall, the over 30 academic presentations showed a high level of scholarship while forging new directions for applied ethnomusicology research and practice.
In keeping with the warm, collegial and highly participatory spirit of the study group, this report is a collaborative effort offering additional detail on the academic program and local arrangements. Congratulations to the symposium participants who gave presentations and to the truly helpful organizers for a very successful meeting!
Klisala Harrison, Chair, Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology and Chair, Program Committee
The Academic Program
The symposium provided a particular insight into the strong activism and multi-layered reflection processes of applied work on the African continent. For example, the opening panel on “Institutional Action in Response to Social Demands” by South African-based Diane Thram, Brett Pyper, and Valmont Lane presented a detailed analysis of two “national” South African Arts festivals. Similarly, Mandy Carver highlighted the complex challenge of South African school music textbook publications – that have to deal with problematic school situations, as well as with a still lingering colonial heritage. The symposium also offered insights into the work of the Fort Hare Department. While Bernhard Bleibinger provided a rich overview of the challenges of the strategies – and achievements – of the Fort Hare ethnomusicology approach, Germaine Gamiet added insights into the impact of the UNESCO convention of the Department’s work, and David Manchip added a practical example of the integration of traditional material – that has suffered increasing marginalization – into a jazz ensemble project. Highlighting work at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, Patricia Achieng Opondo gave detailed insights into the successful work of her Applied Ethnomusicology master program. A wonderful example of the outcome of the Durban program was featured: Nhlakanipho Ngcobo’s research film Y-Tjukutja ANC! This documentary on the song repertoire of the African National Congress combined ethnomusicological research with documentary and filming skills. Jerry Rutsane’s paper offered a Zimbabwean perspective on the handling of musical archives and cultural heritage deprivation relationships. This Zimbabwean study revealed highly pragmatic approach within a complex political and economic situation that calls for further international attention and reflection.
Other international papers showed that applied ethnomusicology has started to move to an increasingly theorized level that self-reflects on practice and method. For example, Klisala Harrison (Finland/Canada) – who had to present via Skype due to temporary but serious illness – reflected on the systematic research of values and its role in the practice of applied ethnomusicology – an idea that repeatedly re-surfaced in other papers. Similarly, Gregory Barz (USA) added an important view by addressing the relation of medical ethnomusicology to applied ethnomusicology. Ana Flávia Miguel (Portugal) reflected on the significant applied research methodologies developed by the Brazilian Musicultura Group, here exemplified in a project undertaken with Cape Verde immigrants in Lisbon. Theoretization was also apparent in Klaus Näumann’s (Germany) ethnomusicological analysis of music competitions. Mai Li (USA) added perspectives on the Intangible Cultural Heritage debate.
The symposium provided insight into several fascinating case studies, such as Nepomuk Riva’s reflection on sometimes conflicted interests of the different participating groups in intercultural co-teaching seminars at the Humboldt-University in Berlin. Marie-Christine Parent (Canada) reflected on her complex role expectations during her fieldwork on the Seychelles, commissioned by the Ministry of Culture. Łukas Smoluch (Poland) addressed the challenges of revival from written collections in the case of Oskar Kolberg’s material. Boyu Zhang (China) likewise presented fascinating insights into applied ethnomusicological community work in China. Deise Oliveira Montardo (Brazil) provided important insights from her applied work in the Amazon region, and Jennifer Newsome (Australia) presented a partly extremely sobering analysis of her work with Australian Aboriginal communities.
The symposium further indicated that digital media increasingly facilitates applied work. This was apparent in the presentation of Jocelyn and Zachary Moon (USA), who added a fresh perspective on Zimbabwean music in online material. Michael Hajimichael (Cyprus) analysed the work with TV as a medium in applied ethnomusicology. Finally, Carol Muller (USA), together with her students Nina Ohman, Glenn Holtzman, and Emily J. Rothchild, presented a well-thought out panel on community service learning in universities. The panel highlighted activist work with hip hop musicians, and provided insights into issues of gender, religion and ethnicity affecting interlocutors and researchers.
The high quality of many papers contributed to the dedicated commitment in a final discussion. For example, the multiple directions presented raised the need to (re-)address the questions of how to define applied ethnomusicology, and of how to place related approaches, such as socially engaged ethnomusicology, management work, etc. into this academic field. Other important questions related to the establishment or expansion of better exchange and dialogue between the different research groups, and to the role of archives and applied ethnomusicology within institutions and interdisciplinary contexts. Also expressed was a need to exchange relevant teaching programs and curricula.
Britta Sweers, Study Group Secretary
Local arragements symposium started in the morning of the 30th of June after a brief welcome featuring Klisala Harrison, Britta Sweers and myself in venues of the new Fort Hare Music Department in East London. At the welcome reception on the first evening entertainment was provided by a marimba band, which consisted of music students and players from a former community outreach project. The band, trained by Jonathan Ncozana, performed original and arranged musical items, which showcased results of applied work at the Fort Hare Music Department.
The late afternoon event after the fruitful presentations and intense discussions of the second day was a sun set boat trip on the Nahoon River in East London which offered delegates an opportunity for relaxed talks and networking while enjoying South African dishes and wines.
On day three, the study group travelled through Frontier Country to the Fort Hare main campus in Alice, the alma mater of famous politicians, such as Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere, and the former workplace of Desmond Tutu. After a brief visit to the old Music Department and a walk through campus, the group had a guided tour to the ANC Archives and the collection of Xhosa artifacts at NAHECS. The main event of the day, Angela Impey’s keynote address, took place after a tea break in the exquisite De Beers Gallery for African Arts at Fort Hare. The afternoon was reserved for individual walks to waterfalls, gardens and indigenous forests in Hogsback. In the evening, a workshop was offered at the Fort Hare Hunterstoun Conference Centre in Hogsback, where delegates could learn how to make and to play indigenous musical bows from the Eastern Cape. The Hunterstoun Conference Centre has a particular history for Hogsbackians aware of a friendship between its former owners, the Wilson family, and J.R.R. Tolkien (who originally came from South Africa). The famous anthropologist and specialist in Xhosa culture, Monica Hunter-Wilson, also used to live and work in Hunterstoun. Day four concluded with a farewell dinner organised by Local Arrangements.
The last day of the symposium led the delegates to Grahamstown, where Andrew Tracey introduced them to the African Musical Instruments (AMI) factory and Diane Thram gave a guided tour through the International Library of African Music (ILAM). Afterwards, symposium delegates had a chance to attend the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
The symposium was made possible through financial support received from the National Arts Council, and the University of Fort Hare’s International Affairs and Institutional Advancement Departments.
Local arrangements were planned and organised by the Local Arrangements Committee, consisting of myself (logistics; fundraising), David Manchip (IT; equipment and symposium venues), Germaine Gamiet (symposium venues; stationary; venues and catering; registration desk), Jonathan Ncozana (marimba band and bow making workshop), Mkhululi Milisi and Gwyneth Lloyd (registration desk). Dave Dargie was the good spirit that supported us.
I would like to thank all colleagues of the study group who were part of the program committee or who came to South Africa as delegates. The atmosphere during the symposium was exceptionally collegial and inspiring.
Bernhard Bleibinger, Chair, Local Arrangements Committee