Conference Agenda

The Online Program of events for the 2022 AMS-SEM-SMT Joint Annual Meeting appears below. This program is subject to change. The final program will be published in early November.

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Presentations including 'banerji'

Musical Whiteness and the Researcher’s Racial Positionality
Time: 11/Nov/2022: 9:00am-12:15pm · Location: Grand Ballroom D

Musical Whiteness and the Researcher’s Racial Positionality

Chair(s): Ritwik Banerji (Iowa State University)

Discussant(s): Philip Ewell (Hunter College)

Presenter(s): Lillian Wohl (Universidad de Buenos Aires/IIET), Kelsey Klotz (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Ayden Adler (University of Houston–Downtown), Kira Thurman (University of Michigan), Ritwik Banerji (Iowa State University)

How does the researcher’s race shape their study of musical whiteness? As Sara Ahmed (2004) suggests, whiteness is often most visible to those it excludes and thus this estrangement enables nonwhite scholars to examine whiteness with greater clarity than their white counterparts. Nevertheless, white scholars retain greater welcome within predominantly white musical worlds and are therefore able to observe elements of whiteness that their nonwhite colleagues cannot. How, then, does this greater access reify white privilege by offering white researchers greater access as “insiders?” And what are the human costs nonwhite researchers face as they research white musical spaces?

In this roundtable, participants will discuss these issues in their own work in order to launch a conversation with the audience. As a nonwhite ethnographer of Berlin’s free improvisation scene, Ritwik Banerji discusses how his race forced him to examine the scene’s whiteness precisely because whiteness is a privilege he does not have. Similarly, as a nonwhite, Jewish ethnographer of Jewish music in New York City and Buenos Aires, Lillian Wohl discusses how her access to these communities often hinged upon her strategic performance of aural Jewishness. Turning to the archive, Jewish musicologist Ayden Adler discusses how contemporary conceptions of whiteness enable her access to the Boston Symphony Orchestra archive to critique the history of whiteness of an institution which, previously, had considered Jews non-white. Kelsey Klotz discusses how her whiteness becomes an obstacle to her critique of the contradiction between the Brubeck Collection’s self-professed openness and inclusivity as an institution and the possessive investment in whiteness evident in the contents of this collection. Finally, Kira Thurman reflects on her experience as a Black scholar of Black performers in Western art music in order to push past the simplistic typecasting of nonwhite scholars of white musical worlds as sell-outs with respect to Black politics. Following each participant’s brief commentary and a response from the roundtable’s discussant, Philip Ewell, the session then turns to a discussion between roundtable speakers and the audience on how racial subject position shapes the conditions for research on musical whiteness.

Musical Whiteness and the Researcher’s Racial Positionality-Banerji_Handout.pdf
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