Whose difference? Whose 'multiculturalism'?

Bayley, A and Nooshin, L (2017) Whose difference? Whose 'multiculturalism'? In: British Forum for Ethnomusicology One-Day Conference: 'Listening to Difference' - Music and Multiculturalism, 21 October 2017, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

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Does the language of ‘multiculturalism’ reinforce or transcend difference? And whose purpose do such discourses serve? Whilst a number of writers have sought to refine the the discussion by suggesting alternative terms such as ‘inter-cultural’ or ‘trans-cultural’, few have problematised the notion of ‘culture’ in this particular context (notwithstanding the extensive literature on ‘culture’ as a concept more broadly). Specifically, in relation to music, there is a relatively new and growing ethno-musicological literature documenting collaborative projects of various kinds, mostly based – and led and funded by musicians and organisations - in the cosmopolitan urban centres of the ‘global north’. Such collaborations are not new, of course, but have received added impetus by factors such as the emergence of the ‘world music’ industry from the 1980s, the rise of digital communications technologies, and increased human mobilities of various kinds. Like the broader lay and marketing discourses, much of this scholarly work is celebratory in tone; relatively little of it engages critically with issues such as the power relations involved in such cultural ‘exchanges’. In particular, the language of multiculturalism - including talk about exploring the spaces ‘between’ cultures - is predicated on a view of culture as relatively stable and bounded, rather than as a fluid and ongoing process. Viewed from the latter perspective, all cultures are arguably ‘multi’. This paper will explore these questions with reference to several ‘cross-cultural’ projects, including Ukranian singer Mariana Sadovska’s collaborations with the Kronos Quartet and German percussionist Christian Thomé; and Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor’s work with the Kronos Quartet and the Silk Road Ensemble. We explore the discourses by which these musicians and others position their work in relation to perceived cultural boundaries and ask whether those participating in such ‘multicultural’ projects are not in fact often from the same cultural formation (Turino 2003) sharing more culturally than the discourses of ‘multiculturalism’ allow for, and reinforcing an essentialised privileging of difference over shared commonalities (Agawu 2003).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Further reading:
Agawu, Kofi (2003) Representing African Music. Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions. Routledge.
Turino, Thomas (2003) ‘Are We Global Yet? Globalist Discourse, Cultural Formations and the Study of Zimbabwean Popular Music’, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 12(2): 51-79.

Keywords: multicultural, intercultural music, collaboration, performance
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
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Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2018 13:43
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:49
References: Agawu, Kofi (2003) ‘Contesting Difference’. In: Kofi Agawu (ed.), Representing African music: postcolonial notes, queries, positions. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 151-172. Bhabha, Homi K. (1996) ‘Culture’s In-Between’. In: Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds), Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage, pp. 53-60. Cantle, Ted (2012) Interculturalism – The New Era of Cohesion and Diversity. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Cooley, Timothy (2013) ‘Folk Music in Eastern Europe’. In Philip Bohlman (ed.), The Cambridge History of World Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 352-370. Euba, Akin (2014) J. H. Kwabena Nketia - Bridging Musicology and Composition - A Study in Creative Musicology. Point Richmond: MRI Press. Fischer-Lichte, Erika, and Bharucha, Rustom (2011), ‘Dialogue’, Textures. http://www.textures-platform.com/?p=1667 Geertz, Clifford (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. Kimberlin, Cynthia Tse, and Euba, Akin (1995), ‘Introduction’, Intercultural Music, 1: 1-9. Mitra, Royona (2015) Akram Khan. Dancing New Interculturalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. O’Reilly, Camille C. (1999) ‘Review of Adam Kuper’. In: Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press [https://www.hnet.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=4034] Trulsson, Hofvander Ylva and Burnard, Pamela (2016) ‘Insider, outsider of cultures in- between: ethical and methodological implications in intercultural arts research’. In: International Handbook of Intercultural Arts Research. London: Routledge, pp. 115- 125. Turino, Thomas (2003) ‘Are We Global Yet? Globalist Discourse, Cultural Formations and the Study of Zimbabwean Popular Music’, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 12(2): 51-79. Welsch, Wolfgang (1999) ‘Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today’. In: Mike Featherstone and Scott Lash (eds), Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World. London: Sage, pp. 194-213.
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/10826
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