Asian Ethnomusicology in Europe

We look forward to giving presentations for the 37th European Seminar in Ethnomusicology, hosted by the Institute for Ethnomusicology at the University for Music and Performing Arts Graz (Austria). I will present along with other members of the GAME research group: our Professor II, a postdoctoral researcher, and a PhD candidate. Below are the titles and abstracts for our upcoming presentations, both of which are connected with writings that will be published later this year.


Devising an “Artistic Research” Approach for Decolonized Ethnomusicology

Thanh Thuy Nguyen, David G. Hebert, and Stefan Östersjö


This presentation will feature discussion between co-authors of a fully drafted (but yet to be published) book, Shared Listenings: Methods for Transcultural Musicianship and Research (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). The book demonstrates new strategies for equitable cross-cultural music creation as well as collaborative ethnomusicological research on such endeavors. Fitting the ESEM theme, this presentation–by authors from three continents–will emphasize how a research collaboration was developed through the work of Vietnamese-Swedish ensemble The Six Tones, with particular attention to its use of video-based “stimulated recall” methods. These methods, the group has explored as a means for intersubjective meaning making across cultural boundaries. Specifically, we will demonstrate what methods were developed through the project, why they potentially offer unique insights, who may benefit from them (for what purposes), and how they may be applied in other musical contexts. The presentation builds on a comprehensive analysis of the approaches to stimulated recall developed by the group since 2009, and is situated in recent scholarship and debates on the need for decolonising approaches to music research.


Keywords: bimusicality, decolonization, artistic research, cross-cultural collaboration


Harmonizing Across a Divide: The Music Confucius Institute

Marianne Løkke Jakobsen and David G. Hebert

In this presentation, we describe the perspectives of managers and Chinese instrument teachers with the world’s first Confucius Institute to have a focus on music, Copenhagen’s Music Confucius Institute (MCI). Previous research has theorized the notion of “soft power” and documented diverse opinions on China’s system of Confucius Institutes, while previous ethnomusicological studies have established that music exchange can reduce international conflict, but a need persists for further studies of Chinese music policy. Our pioneering study examines the views of expert Chinese musicians who taught for the MCI in Europe and a leading music conservatory in China, as well as the complex diplomacy associated with managing such intercultural music institutions. One author worked for nine years founding director of the MCI, and can thereby offer a view from direct experience. The other author visited the MCI multiple times, later serving as Visiting Scholar at the Central Conservatory of Music where he interviewed and observed the work of instrumentalists who had taught in both Beijing and Copenhagen. Fitting the ESEM theme, our presentation emphasizes issues in research collaboration, including that of balancing between Sinophobia and jingoism, cultural diplomacy, self-censorship, and strategies of reflective distancing to “make the familiar strange”, thereby obtaining insights with broad applicability. We will demonstrate how personal relations and diverging stakeholders can make ethnomusicological studies of leadership delicate in international contexts due to the need to maintain healthy collaborations that may be misunderstood due to prejudices from multiple directions.


Keywords: cultural diplomacy, institutionalization, soft power, China, Europe-China relations


Graz image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graz#/media/File:19-06-14-Graz-Murinsel-Schlo%C3%9Fberg-RalfR.jpg