Introducing: Responding

Hello dear readers, this is Liza. Today I’m introducing the first entry in a new series called Responding, a space where ethnomusicology graduate students react to papers or panels they attended at Society for Ethnomusicology annual conferences. I love the energy and excitement generated at SEM conferences, and I imagined this series as a way to continue the rich, generative conversations we have over a few short days throughout the rest of the year. Here is our first contribution, by Heather Strohschein.

I can’t believe six months have already passed since SEM 2016. I’ve been going to SEM conferences since . . . oh jeez . . . it’s been over ten years . . . (trying not to think about how old I am). I haven’t made it to every single conference since my very first in 2005, but every time I go, I’m reenergized by the plethora of ideas, the multitudinous approaches to research, and the multisyllabic words I need to look up at the end of the day.

This year, Liza suggested writing about a specific paper or papers that really stood out. This is a great way to keep the ideas and inspiration of SEM fresh in our minds as well as keeping a conversation going regarding these ideas. I saw and heard some fantastic papers this year, but the one that got me thinking the most was presented by Trevor Reed from Columbia University on the first day of the conference. His paper was titled “On the Generativity of Letting Culture Die.” No colon! I was immediately intrigued.

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Response to In Discipline

A year and a half ago we published our last contribution for the projectIn Discipline: Talks from the European Side.” Since then, we have had the idea of generating a dialogue between professors and students, as a way to channel or to start to channel students’ ideas, needs, and preocupations in a horizontal and inter-generational kind of way.  The contribution below, written by the Catalan Anthropologist Josep Martí, is thus what we hope to be the first step of an ongoing conversation. Josep Martí’s text has been written in Catalan (top), and it has been translated into English (bottom),  continuing our effort to make this blog, and the In Discipline project,  multilingual.

Dr. Josep Martí is a Scientific Researcher at the Milà i Fontanals Institute (Barcelona), which makes up part of the Spanish National Research Council, otherwise known as “CSIC.” He has conducted fieldwork in different European countries, in Japan, and most recently in Equatorial Guinea. His research interests include, as reflected in his numerous publications,  the anthropology of the body, the anthropology of music, and popular culture.

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Professional Dress: The Suit-speriment

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about a little experiment my colleagues and I conducted regarding professional dress. To recap, many of the graduate students in the University of Maryland’s ethno/musicology division have teaching responsibilities, and we were noticing an increased discussion about what we wear while teaching classes and taking classes. The idea of business-casual attire had come up a number of times, and I wanted to know what would happen if we all dressed in such clothes for two weeks, although some kept the experiment going a bit longer.

Suit-speriment

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Dissertation Thoughts

I can’t stop freaking out about my dissertation, and I’m starting to enjoy that fact.

Some of you may have noticed that postings on our blog have been a little scant recently. We sincerely apologize for that and are continuing work on many awesome projects. The reality of the situation is, however, several of us have just finished thesis writing or are currently in the throes of dissertation writing, and for me at least, this has led to some strange occurrences in my life. I mentioned in a previous post how I had become convinced I needed to shunt health and sleep to the side in order to finish the dissertation. I have to admit that as much as writing that blog post did help me get some perspective on what I’m doing and why, I still have days where I feel like I’m not doing something right if I haven’t had at least one nervous breakdown. And that has led to another problem: I’m starting to enjoy this process.

Dissertation pile

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Dissertation Thoughts

One thing I didn’t learn in my now 20+ years of education was how to write a dissertation. Fellow students and professors have told me not to think of the dissertation as the end; it’s not my life’s work but only the beginning of my life’s work. I know they mean well, but whilst deep in the throes of dissertation writing—when my thoughts are sticky and globby, when I can’t understand the article I just read, when I’m not making sense to myself anymore—I think, “And this is only the beginning?!”

In a way, though, this kind of encouragement is misleading. The dissertation is an end of sorts. It’s the culmination of years of study, research, and fieldwork. It’s a liminal space (oh no, that word!), a place of becoming. One final rite of passage as a student. And as such, it’s freaking me out.

 

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At SEM Austin 2015

I’m sure other disciplines feel the same, but for me, there’s nothing quite like an SEM conference. I saw so many wonderful, thought-provoking papers, got to meet and talk with so many new people, and bought so many half-priced books the last day, that I came home thoroughly inspired. For this week’s blog post, I thought I would share my reactions to my favorite paper presentation.

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What would you do?

“What would you do,” a professor once asked, “if you’ve only got three weeks left of your fieldwork and your interlocutors aren’t responding to you?” She asked this of me and a fellow student several years ago when we were taking one of her classes. I think she was a bit frustrated at our frustration. One of the requirements for the class was a paper that added new research to and knowledge about an area of the world that has been under-studied by ethnomusicologists. For this paper, she wanted us to go as far as we could in conducting fieldwork without actually traveling anywhere. We were to use email, Facebook, Skype, phone calls, anything that would put us in direct contact with actual people. And my people weren’t picking up the phone. Or answering emails. Or responding to Facebook messages. In desperation, I turned to my professor, and she asked me the above question.

Sunrise in Hawaii

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Yet Another First Day of School

I think we can all agree that the anticipation felt from the “first day of school” prompts vibrant memories. For me, year after year, there has always been the excitement mixed with nerves about meeting new classmates, the decision of what my first-day outfit will be, and the dreaded first-day-of-school photo session outside my house. Then again, I was also always pleasantly surprised to find mom’s celebratory first-day chocolate chip cookies waiting for me when I got home.

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Grad School Tips from the SEM Student Union Bloggers

Last month, I posted a “To-Do List” where I listed my personal thoughts on how one should mentally prepare for the decision to move forward with graduate school applications. I knew that I could create a much stronger post if I could gather feedback from my fellow SU blog contributors based on their lived experiences. So I did just that! I now present to you a comprehensive list of graduate school advice, not-so-secrets, and high-fives from Ana, Heather, Liza, and Alice!

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