Saturday midday, November 14, 12:00–1:30 CST

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Workshop: Fostering Decoloniality: From Local Archives to Global Dialogue


Robin Attas, Philip Burnett, Lindelwa Dalamba, David Irving, Roe-Min Kok, and Lilliana Saldaña, Panelists

Recent years have seen intensive critical engagement across the humanities with questions of decoloniality (e.g. Quijano 2000, Mignolo 2011, Mignolo and Walsh 2018, Bhambra et al. 2018). This engagement has had profound implications for the academy, not least for music research and teaching. As in the rest of the humanities, the coloniality of knowledge production is now widely acknowledged. The collective interrogation of cultural paradigms and their perpetuated structures of power are reflected in the growing development of decolonial approaches, methods, and pedagogies that focus explicitly on the ways in which sonic and embodied practices can be (re)appraised through neglected voices and communities (e.g. Stanton 2018, Robinson 2020). Indeed, the engendering of dialogue between music historians, theorists, and educators has been instrumental in further articulating the decolonial concerns of the twenty-first century, in particular the “liberation” of knowledge, as demonstrated by the many related symposia and panels at AMS, SMT, and SEM. These decolonial concerns have dovetailed, moreover, with considerations of social justice, indigenous cultures, and scholarly efforts in producing counter-histories and “histories from below” in order to confront and rethink the influence of Eurocentric epistemologies stemming from Enlightenment models, notably the so-called musical canon and the ways it is researched and taught. 

Building on these various discussions of power and decoloniality, our proposed workshop for music historians, theorists, and educators introduces an important third element, “local archives,” which we define as alternative sites for the production of knowledge to contest and further democratize existing ways of knowing. In doing so, our workshop aims to foster new perspectives on decoloniality in music, exploring the local archives' multiple possibilities for decolonizing practices as a shared advocacy on the one hand, and as a contextually understood mandate on the other. More specifically, the speakers will each examine what local archives mean in their research and public engagement, and the extent to which these archives are imbricated with institutional agendas. Together, the speakers will also think about the potential scope of bringing varied archival research methods as well as indigenous perspectives into productive dialogue, thus enabling them to probe the prospects and challenges of engendering global dialogue amid broader questions of decoloniality in research and teaching.

This exploratory workshop aims to reach out to scholars in both the AMS and SMT communities, and consists of music historians, theorists, and educators from a range of cultural backgrounds, career stages, and global perspectives. After introductory remarks by the chair, the four presenters will each deliver a 10-minute position statement, to which the two respondents will each provide a 5-minute response. There will then follow an open-floor moderated discussion. It is envisaged that this workshop will attract a diverse range of participants, particularly graduate students and early career researchers. At a deeper level, the workshop will also provide a timely forum for its participants to deliberate on the problems and possibilities of practising decoloniality, in an effort to bring together archival voices and communities as a form of collaborative action.