Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ethnomusicology & Academics

Of course I post a message to SEM-L, the Society for Ethnomusicology email listserv, when I have the Institutional Review Board, Researchers Beware, skull and pirate swords post up as the first post. An ethnomusicologist sent a message to the listserv asking for people to notify her of ethnomusicology blogs so that she can compile a review of the blogs. I'm not sure what the intended outcome of her review will be, but if it enables more communication amongst ethnomusicologists and other scholars, then I'm all for it. The only replies that went to the full SEM-L list of recipients were mine and that of well known, published, established, has had his Ph.D. for a long time and I don't even have one yet, ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon. Here is his blog about music and sustainability:
Maybe I could have made sure to have a bit more sophisticated post up, or something that doesn't have the potential to make me out to be a shoddy researcher or a wanky academic. But whatever, it will really be alright. The whole point of this blog is to help me engage in a dialog with other interested people, be they other bloggers/people who write about music, DJs and producers that I am working with in Detroit, other musicians who are interested, and maybe even a few academic folks, fellow ethnomusicologists/ethnographers/anthropologists/whatevers who are interested in conversing about the things I am experiencing while conducting this field research, and conversing about broader issues in ethnomusicology and ethnographic research. And on top of all that nobility, I get to write something that is a bit goofy, a bit silly at times. When I'm writing, and some phrase or idea or word order causes me some giggles, I feel the need to put that in here. Because I'm not interested in taking things so seriously that it's no longer fun, and a blog is the perfect genre of communication for me to try and include some humor. And if my words cause occasional laughter in my readers, then great, and if not, then it's a good thing I'm still working on it! By the time I'm actually fully engaged in writing my dissertation (hopefully September!), maybe I'll be so good at humorous writing that I can actually do it well in the midst of serious analysis of Detroit techno and house. Just imagine the glory that I will feel.

I appreciate all the positive responses/comments I have recieved over the past week. Clearly catastrophe and whining get attention! Oh, just kidding! In response to the "Anonymous" comment on the IRB post below, which I first read as being from friend and active reader, and producer, Anonym - in that moment the criticism of the comment was a bit shocking, but then I realized that it was from someone anonymous...and criticism is fine, it can be helpful, but I just had a moment of "what??...wait...oh."

Anyway, in response to the anonymous comment, I write clearly in the IRB post that this is the result of submitting an annual renewal of my previously approved study, the proposal for which I submitted and was granted approval well before commencing any interviews. And to David Float, I appreciate the solidarity, however, I certainly cannot ignore these rules on the basis of my competency because the IRB review and approval process is closely tied to support and continued approval of my research in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Any unethical breach of these relationships could have potentially damaging effects on my research, future publications, and the conferring of my doctoral degree.

I debated whether or not to respond to these criticisms and first thought that I would just have the critical comments up with that post and just leave it as it stood. I assumed that readers would understand that there is proof in the pudding and that answers to the critiques could be found in the original post. But then, in looking through my sitemeter, I saw someone had linked from the message board of a site called Waxidermy. So I explored and found a single, brief critique of my entire blog, basically claiming that it was bullshit that I had posted this to the SEM listserv because serious dudes like Steven Feld would be subjected to this shit. Steven Feld is a fabulous ethnomusicologist and anthropologist, is a central scholar in the development of the field of ethnomusicology, is also important to other related disciplines, and his writing has been extremely influential to my education as an ethnomusicologist. Here's another link about him:

I have a few things to say about this criticism: first of all, so we really think Steven Feld and other busy ethnomusicologists read every single SEM-L email? We all have the capacity to delete, you know. Second, is there really such a disconnect between older, tenured, extensively published scholars and younger, less published, untenured, maybe even un-Ph.D.'d scholars that I should automatically be ignored and have my writing labeled as shit because I am at this stage in my life and my academic career?

Youth is good, turnover is good, freshness and newness in approach, thought, and action will keep ethnomusicology relevant! So, regardless of the fact that Steven Feld may or may not read my blog, or any other scholar for that matter, I will continue to do what I do with pride and confidence - although it gets shaken from time to time - in the relevancy of my contributions.


Anonymous said...

Clearly, you've understood the value of social media.
I actually sent a private reply to that query about blogging ethnomusicologists. My ethnomusicology-specific blogs are inactive at the moment and I don't blog that regularly about ethnomusicology-specific topics.
And in terms of connections, you might want to join us in the ethnomusicology twibe:

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