Warm congratulations to our two most recent PhD graduates in Ethnomusicology, Dr. Brian Karl and Dr. Simon Calle,
both of whom defended dissertations during the 2011-12 academic year. Dr. Karl defended in November, 2011; Dr. Calle in May 2012. Abstracts of both dissertations are below.
______________________________Simon Calle:Reinterpreting the Global, Rearticulating the Local: Nueva Música Colombiana, Networks, Circulation, and Affect
This dissertation analyses identity formation through music among contemporary Colombian musicians. The work focuses on the emergence of musical fusions in Bogotá, which participant musicians and Colombian media have called “nueva música Colombiana” (new Colombian music). The term describes the work of bands that assimilate and transform North-American music genres such as jazz, rock, and hip-hop, and blend them with music historically associated with Afro-Colombian communities such as cumbia and currulao, to produce several popular and experimental musical styles. In the last decade, these new fusions have begun circulating outside Bogotá, becoming the distinctive sound of young Colombia domestically and internationally. The dissertation focuses on questions of musical circulation, affect, and taste as a means for articulating difference, working on the self, and generating attachments others and therefore social bonds and communities
This dissertation considers musical fusion from an ontological perspective influenced by actor-network, non-representational, and assemblage theory. Such theories consider a fluid social world, which emerges from the web of associations between heterogeneous human and material entities. The dissertation traces the actions, interactions, and mediations between places, people, institutions, and recordings that enable the emergence of new Colombian music. In considering those associations, it
pays close attention to the affective relationships between people and music. In that sense, instead of thinking on relatively fixed and consistent relationships between music, place, and identity, built upon discursive or imagined ties, the work considers each of these concepts as a network of relations enmeshed with each other and in consistent re- articulation.Brian Karl
Across a Divide: Mediations of Contemporary Popular Music in Morocco and Spain
This dissertation is about the mediation of cross-cultural difference among Moroccan and Spanish musical practitioners. It is based on the idea that negotiations across the gaps of such difference have been promoted through the increased circulation of people, products and ideas in the modern era. Based on fieldwork during the years 2003-2007, primarily in the urban sites of Granada, Spain and Fez, Morocco, the project focuses on popular music, how both the production and reception of music are critically bound up with notions of genre, how resulting associations of musical practice are affected by different uses of technology, and how musical practices of all types partake of and help form different ideas of belonging.
The understanding of genres of musical expression by listeners and performers alike serves a similar function in demonstrating affiliation with certain in-groups or belief in certain ideologies: e.g., of ethnic or national belonging; or of modern, cosmopolitan access. Tracking not only performance of certain genres but discourse about those genres provides clues to how crucial cultural and political differences are understood and mediated.
Key sites for research included official venues for public concerts and cultural tourism, but also more everyday spaces of musical production and reception such as bars and cafes, homes, taxis, streets, parks, and small retail shops. In the course of my research I attended dozens of performances and rehearsals by professional and amateur musicians, trailed selected working musical groups over many months as they pursued their performance practices, and interviewed both music producers and music listeners in many different contexts.
In the course of explicating the processes of musical production and reception in these locales, the project explores a broad set of related topics while framing the overall investigation theoretically. These topics include questions of migration in the modern era, of cosmopolitanism in various forms as a response to increased cross-cultural contacts due to various human movements, as well as consideration of crucial aspects of modernity– e.g. colonialism, nationalism, globalization, and cultural, economic and technological development–-all of which have been significant for cultural practices in Morocco, and among Moroccan emigrants to Spain and elsewhere in recent generations