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Presentation by Emily Hansell Clark (Columbia University) in the first session of the Aurality Seminar organized by Barbara Titus. Location: Vondelzaal - Universiteitsbibliotheek Singel 425

Detail Summary
Date 14 March 2019
Time 16:00 - 18:00

Aurality: Musical Modes of Knowledge Inscription. Seminar Series of the Research Group Music and Culture

In recent years, acquisitions and formations of knowledge and the dynamics of power that govern these formations are increasingly theorized through a renewed interest for the ear with physical, mechanical, organic, physiological, psychological and cognitive subject potential.

This seminar/workshop intends to engage with a wide range of modes of knowledge inscription and transmission through the employment of a variety of musicking acts (Small 1998, 9): we aim to voice a song or a praise or a judgement, we perform an argument or debate or encounter, we conceptualize a discourse, a movement, a process or gesture, we constitute synchronizations, disjunctions or confrontations, etc.. In doing so, the workshop intends to raise questions about technologies of transmission, dissemination and inscription of knowledge (sounds, imagery, speech, writing, performance, etc.) and the material on which they inscribe: memories, (human) bodies, paper, hard drives, or songs.

Thursday 14 March 2019, 16:00-18:00 hours

14 maart Emily Hansell Clark: Vondelzaal - Universiteitsbibliotheek Singel 425

Emily Hansell Clark (Columbia University): “Wiet Wiet, Kiaauw”: Birds and Men in Suriname and the Netherlands

On Sunday mornings in Paramaribo, Suriname, dozens of men gather in the central Independence Square to “race” twatwas, small songbirds native to the region. The birds are caged and trained to sing competitively in elaborate months-long tournaments that are considered a Surinamese national sport. The same birdsong competitions can also be witnessed in cities in the Netherlands, Suriname’s former colonizer, where the birds are both smuggled and bred.

My paper dialogues with ethnomusicology/sound studies/anthropology scholarship (Mundy 2018, Kohn 2013, Seeger 1987, Feld 1982) that considers birds and birdsong not as an aural realm of nature separate from the human, but rather as the grounds for taxonomies and discourses that organize human concerns and experiences of self in a world where nature and culture cannot be fully disentangled, whether in the densely green tropical climate of the Caribbean coast of South America or the cosmopolitan urban environment of the Dutch metropolis. I situate this examination in the context of historical representations of culture and nature, the civilized and the wild, as well as present-day concerns including freedom, migration, masculinity, and ecotourism.

Emily Hansell Clark is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology. She holds a BA in Ethnomusicology and Composition from Oberlin College and an MSIS (Information Studies) from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus in sound archives. Emily has long been interested in the archive as an area of phenomenological investigation, as well as in conceptualizations of preservation, tradition, and memory that lie outside of the modern Western archival institution. She is currently involved in a number of community-based repatriation projects with Columbia's ethnomusicology archive. Drawing from over a decade of experience studying Javanese music and culture, Emily's currently-developing dissertation project concerns ethnicity, migration, memory, governance, difference, and selfhood explored through fieldwork with ethnically Javanese musicians in Suriname and the Netherlands.

Aurality Seminar