5TH MEETING OF THE “MUSIC AND MINORITIES” STUDY GROUP

Jurková Zuzana

Prague, Czech Republic,
May 24 – July 1, 2008.
Organizers: Faculty of Humanities
of Charles University, Prague,
Ethnological Institute of the
Academy of Science of the Czech
Republic, Slovo 21.

The International Council for Traditional
Music (ICTM, originally the International
Folk Music Council) was founded in 1947
as the first major international ethnomusicological
organization. In contrast to
the Society for Ethnomusicology, which
was founded eight years later and combines
mainly American ethnomusicology
with relatively closely-related scientific
paradigms, ICTM is extremely diversified
not only regarding scientific paradigms,
but also in other directions. Its biennial
world conferences are comprised of
hundreds of participants who present in
many parallel sessions (e.g., last year in
Vienna there were usually six). They represent
an exemplary fair of field resources
rather than what the word itself refers to,
i.e., discussions or exchange of knowledge
of scholars in the same field.
The real bases for scientific cooperation
in ICTM are the so-called Study
Groups. One of the newest (and today
the second most numerous) – “Music
and Minorities” – held its fifth meeting
in May in Prague. Sixty scholars from 23
lands actively participated.
The conference topics, which had
been chosen at last year’s world conference,
were Music and Dance of the Roma;
Cultural Policy, Representation of Minority
Music. The first of these, which had
been requested by the local organizers
(the conference took place in the context
of the Khamoro World Festival of Romani
Music) was represented by the greatest
number of participants. In this group,
the strong tradition of Romani music
research was clear from the beginning:
among its founders were three scholars
in the field (Pettan, Hemetek, and Jurková).
During its ten-year existence, there
has clearly been a thematic shift of papers
from traditional “ethnographic” and historical
research of European Romani
groups, in part toward less known Romani
groups (Ankica Petrović: Music Practices
of Machwaya Gypsies in America)
and in part toward new topics ( Katalin
Kovalcsik: A Hungarian Romani Star
Singer as “Antimusician”) or new points
of view (Adriane Helbig: Sonic Aesthetic
of Poverty Among Romani Musicians in
Transcarpathia, Ukraine ).
The two other themes of the conference
are closely related and thus it was
not always easy for the program committee
to place them in appropriate groups.
Both themes shared a broad methodological,
theoretical and paradigmatic spectrum.
Besides a few “ethnographic reports,”
usually concerning little known minorities
(Olya Kolomyets: Little Armenia in
Western Ukraine, Piotr Dahlig: The Czech
Brothers in Poland – The Community
of Zelov and its Contemporary Musical
Image, Nona Lomidze: The Georgian Jewish
Community – Their Life and Integration
in Vienna) the papers were usually
concerned with the self-representation of
majorities (Essica Marks: Representation
of Arab Music in Israel´s Popular Culture
Arena), and with how this representation
is influenced by (majority) cultural
politics (Dorit Klebe: From “Gastarbeitersendung”
to “Radiomultikulti” – Music
of Minorities in Radio Pragrams under
Public Law in Germany, Gerda Lechleitner:
The Phonogrammarchiv, cultural policy,
and the safeguarding of the audiovisual
heritage: past and present case studies).
As for minority problematics, the
involvement of researchers’ empathy or
sympathy is not at all surprising (characteristically,
many members of this group
are also active in the newest study group
– “Applied Ethnomusicology,” and that
application entails great involvement).
Expression of these emotions that is
too strong and without solid theoretical
anchorage (and clarity of this anchorage)
tends to weaken the scientific character
of the work.
Alongside classical format, some
contributions were presented as panels,
which are usually recommended for
world conferences. From my own experience,
I know that preparation for a panel
is demanding – and useful for the participants.
With the growing number of
participants, however, there is a growing
risk of chaos, which is of little use to
the audience. The Prague panelists succeeded
in avoiding that risk. Each of the
panels made brilliant use of some of the
possibilities for this sort of presentation,
from the “Southeast Asia” panel,
Listening to the Unheard: Music, Minorities
and the State in Southeast Asia (Org.
Jan Mrázek), which presented three case
studies in a theoretical-philosophical
framework, to an open-dialogue form
National Heritage and the Norwegian
Romanies, to the enlightening and colorful
Cultural Policies and Minority Musics
in Kosovo and Sri Lanka: What Can We
Learn from a Comparative Study?
Compared to the previous meeting,
the Prague conference was atypical in
several ways. For the first time speakers
were chosen on the basis of anonymous
evaluations of the program committee.
(The same process will also be followed
for publication of the papers.). For the
first time, a keynote speaker (Pragueborn
Bruno Nettl, one of the world’s leading
ethnomusicologists) was invited.
Although he had to cancel his participation
at the last minute because of ill
health, he sent not only his provocative
keynote speech Minorities in the History
of Ethnomusicology: A Meditation
on a Half-Century of Experience, but also
a short confession in Czech.
Not only from the program of the
Prague conference, but also from the
composition of the whole “Music and
Minorities” group (some hundred scholars
from four continents) it is clear that
the subject of minorities is, in ethnomusicology
as in other social sciences, very
topical not only because, as Nettl said,
everybody is in one or several minorities...
there are only minorities. At the same
time a running paradigmatic schism was
confirmed in Prague: while many participants
from the East and mainly from
Southeast Europe spoke about “music
itself,” to anthropologically orientated
ethnomusicologists, such terminology
(of course, along with related concepts
and methods) was quite incomprehensible
and/or some sort of antedeluvial echo.
The question is to what degree we should
accept such multiparadigmaticism and
resign ourselves to the advantages of
a wide view and greater possibilities of
generalizations. Conferences are, at the
least, opportunities to reflect on this
paradigmatic fractionalism. In the best
case, it is possible to take advantage of
(not only) paradigmatic convergence. At
the next “Music and Minorities” meeting,
a round table about methodologies is
planned and, on this occasion, basic concepts
will undoubtedly be discussed.
Zuzana Jurková

Vydání: 10, 2008, 2