On behalf of the Society for Ethnomusicology the SEM Board
of Directors approves the Position Statement against the Use of Music as
Torture, which originated in the SEM Ethics Committee and has the unanimous
support of the Board of Directors.
The Society for Ethnomusicology condemns the use of torture
in any form. An international scholarly society founded in 1955, the Society
for Ethnomusicology (SEM) and its members are devoted to the research, study,
and performance of music in all historical periods and cultural contexts. The
SEM is committed to the ethical uses of music to further human understanding
and to uphold the highest standards of human rights. The Society is equally
committed to drawing critical attention to the abuse of such standards through
the unethical uses of music to harm individuals and the societies in which they
live. The U.S. government and its military and diplomatic agencies has used
music as an instrument of abuse since 2001, particularly through the
implementation of programs of torture in both covert and overt detention centers
as part of the war on terror.
The Society for Ethnomusicology
for full disclosure of U.S. government-sanctioned and funded programs that
design the means of delivering music as torture;
the use of music as an instrument of torture; and
that the United States government and its agencies cease using music as an
instrument of physical and psychological torture.
For further information on the American history and praxis
of using music as an instrument of torture, the Society for Ethnomusicology
recommends the following article:
Suzanne Cusick, "Music as
Torture, Music as Weapon,” Revista Transcultural de Música/Transcultural
Music Review 10 (2006).