Position Statement in Response to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Monday, January 9, 2017
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
The following statement was approved by the SEM Board and SEM Council in January 2017.
The 61st Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology occurred in Washington DC, beginning on the day after the U.S. presidential election, an event that stunned our gathering and prompted many of us to deliberately reframe our presentations with affirmations of our commitment to globally engaged dialogue and scholarship, and to reject the statements of xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia that were unleashed in the course of the campaign. As is typical of our meetings, ethnomusicologists presented their work on the role and power of sound and music within a diverse human community. Papers, panels, and presenters themselves—representing, among others, Muslims, Jews, African Americans, Latinx Americans, Native North Americans and Indigenous peoples of the world, women, LGBTQIA communities, and migrants and refugees—affirmed the Society’s commitment to inclusivity both in terms of our discipline and among our colleagues, students, teachers, and consultants in the myriad contexts in which we work. Political activism, community engagement, proactive pedagogies, race relations, repatriation, class consciousness, power dynamics, violent conflict, disability, spirituality, health, memory, and social justice are just some of the issues that concerned more than 1,000 conference participants, reflecting an orientation to music that privileges the human experience in any context or condition. Meanwhile, an unprecedented number of workshops, panels, and fieldtrips in and around Washington DC focused on professional development and public ethnomusicology, underscoring our recognition of a changing academia and the importance for our work in the public sphere.
In the weeks following our conference it has become clear that our work is more important now than ever. The uncertain future of this new era, where powerful words and their aftershocks have put vulnerable groups at risk both symbolically and, in some cases, visibly, within our own communities, is a mandate for us to publicly reaffirm our long held values of inclusivity and tolerance; to disseminate our research, teaching, and activism in ways that are more public and more political; to share best practices; and to offer our voices and our commitment to the communities in which we live and work, local and global, wherever and whenever possible.
Past SEM Position Statements