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Writing About Music

Music has emerged in the last two centuries as a privileged cultural object, one that is implicated in the making of the ‘West’ as much as it symbolizes something not amenable to translation into western musicological discourse. In different kinds of contexts in this period, there have been fierce debates on what constitutes a ‘national’ music. Given the identification of modern nation-states with linguistic groupings, and given music’s ambivalent relationship with linguistic representation, the national music debates have been particularly problematic. Complicating the discussion of music as representative cultural practice is the issue of technology and the changing means of reproduction. Another significant issue is the tension between musical theory and the concerns of the practitioner in relation to what constitutes the body of knowledge to be transmitted or analysed. Questions of contemporary pedagogy and codification of cultural practices have also been topics of recent scholarship in this area.

This workshop aims to understand how older discourses of culture located music, and ask how cultural studies today might investigate those locations. The workshop will be anchored by the attempt to fashion a new vocabulary and new methodologies with which to discuss music in India in particular and the contemporary non-west in general.


The speakers: Amanda Weidman is the author of Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of Music in South India. Tejaswini Niranjana is the author of Mobilizing India: Women, Music and Migration between India and Trinidad.

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