Re-assessing Audio Recordings in Xinjiang: Music Research, Archives and Ethics at a Time of Cultural Erasure
Join us November 11th at 12 pm in the Hoagy Carmichael Room for a presentation by Rachel Harris, Professor in Ethnomusicology and Director of Research at SOAS University of London. Dr. Harris will consider the troubling cultural erasure underway in China’s Xinjiang Province and the ethical questions this action presents to ethnomusicologists.
Over the past few years, the Turkic Muslim peoples of Xinjiang in northwest China have experienced the rise of radical policies of securitization, mass incarceration and cultural assimilation. Ethnomusicologists and long-term fieldworkers in this region face a radically reconfigured terrain: access denied and contacts cut, the destruction and reconfiguration of communities and cultural sites, and the detention of our colleagues, musicians and friends. In this context, we recognize a particular responsibility to preserve and make accessible those recordings still available to us, and to document their meanings and significance, through ethical engagement between ethnomusicologists and cultural heritage communities in the diaspora.
What forms might those engagements take? What particular collections should we prioritize for archiving, how best can we approach the work of documentation, and what are the ethics of making these recordings publicly available? This presentation begins a conversation around these issues by selecting example recordings from the private archive of one individual collector in Xinjiang. Private archives like these open windows into many questions central to the archiving projects we envisage. What kind of music is preserved by what kinds of people under what conditions? What values are inherent in these private archiving practices? What identities do they convey? How do recordings intersect with living traditions of musical practice, and how might they be used in the future?
This event is free and open to the public, and sponsored by the Archives of Traditional Music. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, contact the ATM at 812-855-4679.