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Asking the Indigeneity Question of American Music Studies

  • JESSICA BISSETT PEREA and GABRIEL SOLIS
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1 This volume contributes to a series of institutional moves to decolonize music studies. Developments in sound studies include the Sounding Out! blog founded in 2009 by Jennifer Lynn Stoever, Liana M. Silva, and Aaron Trammell. See specifically Gustavus Stadler, “On Whiteness and Sound Studies,” Sounding Out!, July 6, 2015, https://soundstudiesblog.com/2015/07/06/on-whiteness-and-sound-studies/. Recent developments in the American Musicological Society include Morrison, Matthew D., “(De)Constructing Musicology's Borders along the Color Line,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 65, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 849–56; 2016 AMS special session on “Race, Ethnicity and the Profession”; Brownamsavenger, “#AMSsowhite” Debates, February 18, 2016 https://brownamsavenger.livejournal.com/612.html; and Emily Dolan, “‘An Appropriate and Exemplary Literature’: The JAMS Special Issue on Music, Race, and Ethnicity,” June 5, 2018, http://www.musicologynow.org/2018/06/an-appropriate-and-exemplary-literature.html. The theme for the Society for Ethnomusicology's 2006 Annual Meeting at the University of Hawai'i was “Decolonizing Ethnomusicology”; in 2015 SEM featured a President's Roundtable convened by then President Beverly Diamond on “Indigenous Theory in the Americas”; and the 2017 SEM pre-conference (convened by Victoria Lindsay Levine) “Sound Alliances: A Celebration of Indigenous Music and Culture” featured a session titled “Keywords for an Indigenized Sound Studies,” convened by Jessica Bissett Perea and Trevor Reed, which has since continued as an Indigenous-led sound studies research working group. In 2016 mainstream media witnessed the rise of #OscarsSoWhite and #GrammysSoWhite. Yet as early as 2015, underrepresented students launched campaigns at various Western institutions along the lines of “Why is My Curriculum White?” This particular iteration by the London School of Economics was the subject of an SEM discussion listserv: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGbxLPbetvo. In the Society for American Music, efforts include Levitz, Tamara, “Decolonizing the Society for American Music,” SAM Bulletin 43, no. 3 (2017): 113, and this current issue of JSAM.

2 To paraphrase Shari Huhndorf's 2009 reprisal of Mary Helen Washington's 1997 presidential address to the American Studies Association. See Washington, Mary Helen, “Disturbing the Peace: What Happens to American Studies if you Put African American Studies at the Center?” in American Quarterly 50(1): 123, and Huhndorf, Shari M., “Introduction: Native American Studies and the Limits of Nationalism” in Mapping the Americas: The Transnational Politics of Contemporary Native Culture (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009), 3n2.

Our cautious use of the terms “Native American” and “Indigenous” is deliberate in that we are referencing imperfect English language names for a particular yet dense genre of humans known to be the original stewards of the lands and waters currently known as the Americas, the Pacific or Oceania, and the Caribbean. While this issue will use the term “Indigenous” as shorthand for the density of Native Americans, a broader question we encourage all scholars and authors to consider is whether or not the term “Indigenous” is one that your local communities would use to describe themselves.

3 Atalay, Sonya, Community-Based Archaeology: Research with, by, and for Indigenous and Local Communities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).

4 Kirkness, Verna J., and Ray Barnhardt. 2001. First Nations and Higher Education: The Four Rs -- Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility.” in Knowledge Across Cultures: A Contribution to Dialogue Among Civilizations., edited by Hayoe, R. and Pan, J. Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong.

5 See Andersen, Chris, “Critical Indigenous Studies: From Difference to Density.Cultural Studies Review 15, no. 2 (2009): 88.

6 See Arvin, Maile, “Analytics of Indigeneity,” in Native Studies Keywords, edited by Teves, Stephanie Nohelani, Smith, Andrea, and Raheja, Michelle (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2015): 120.

7 Younging, Gregory, Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing by and about Indigenous Peoples (Edmonton, ON: Brush Education, 2018).

8 “Land Acknowledgements can be used to erase Indigenous people's presence, says writer,” CBC Radio—The Current, July 2, 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-july-2-2019-1.5196775/land-acknowledgements-can-be-used-to-erase-indigenous-people-s-presence-says-writer-1.5196790.

9 O'Brien, Jean M., Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).

10 The phrase “nothing about us without us” originated in disability activism of the 1990s, and more recently taken up by First Nations activists in Canada. For example, see “Kanata: Director Robert Lepage Open to Dialogue with Indigenous Artists over New Play,” CBC News, July 16, 2018, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-robert-lepage-response-indigenous-artists-criticism-1.4748306; “Indigenous Classical Musicians Have a Message for the Music Industry: Nothing about Us without Us, CBC Radio Canada, n.d., http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1450106435665.

11 Younging's principle thirteen—“Terms that should be capitalized”—goes into more depth on the topic of capitalization, explaining how terms relating to Indigenous, such as Indigeneity (“quality of being Indigenous”), are always capitalized (e.g., the same as Blackness, Whiteness, etc.).

12 Silva, Noenoe K., “Introduction,” in Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 13.

13 O'Brien, Jean M., “Historical Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies: Touching on the Past, Looking to the Future,” in Critical Indigenous Studies: Engagements in First World Locations, ed. Moreton-Robinson, Aileen and O'Brien, Jean M. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016), 1522.

14 Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2015): 2.

15 Blackhawk, Ned, Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).

16 Mail Obomsawin, “This Land is Whose Land? Indian Country and the Shortcomings of Settler Protest.” Smithsonian Folkways June 14, 2019. https://folklife.si.edu/magazine/this-land-is-whose-land-indian-country-settler-protest.

17 Kajikawa, Loren, “The Possessive Investment in Classical Music: Confronting Legacies of White Supremacy in U.S. Schools and Departments of Music,” in Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness across the Disciplines, ed. Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams, Harris, Luke Charles, HoSang, Daniel Martinez, and Lipsitz, George (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019), 155–74.

18 For a critique of white patriarchal privilege, power, and exclusion in United States-based musicology as a profession, see Levitz, Tamara, “The Musicological Elite,” in Current Musicology 102 (Spring 2018): 980.

19 See Project Spectrum: a coalition of graduate students and faculty members committed to the issue of diversity in music theory, musicology, and ethnomusicology, https://projectspectrummusic.com/mission/.

20 See The BIPOC Project: A Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Movement, https://www.thebipocproject.org/about-us.

21 McClary, Susan, “Feminine Endings at Twenty,” TRANS: Revista Transcultural de Música 15, no. 5 (2011): https://www.sibetrans.com/trans/public/docs/trans_15_02_McClary.pdf.

22 Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Citation Practices.” Accessed February 8, 2017. http://www.criticalethnicstudiesjournal.org/citation-practices/.

23 Ahmed, Sara, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2012), 126.

24 Sara Ahmed, “Making Feminist Points,” Feministkilljoys, 2013, accessed Accessed April 22, 2015, http://feministkilljoys.com/2013/09/11/making-feminist-points/.

Asking the Indigeneity Question of American Music Studies

  • JESSICA BISSETT PEREA and GABRIEL SOLIS

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