Fall 2008

Music, Human Rights, and Cultural Rights

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-07


Jeffers L. Engelhardt (Section 01)


While music is commonly thought of as a human universal, questions concerning the universality of human rights and the relativity of cultural forms are becoming more urgent because of global interaction and conflict. Music gives voice to human dignity and makes claims about social justice. Music is a register of power and domination, as is its silencing. The specific cultural contexts that give music its meaning may not translate into global arenas, thus highlighting the dilemmas of universality. In this course, we will examine musical censorship in Senegal, Afghanistan, and Mexico, music and the indigenous rights of the Naxi in China and the Suy√° in Brazil, the use of music as an instrument of torture by the United States military, music and HIV/AIDS activism in Uganda, popular music and minority language protection in the Russian Federation, and the place of music in the study of trauma, disabilities, and human ecology. The course will feature visiting performers and will pay particular attention to the discretely musical aspects of human and cultural rights. Our work will be oriented towards activism beyond the classroom. Two class meetings per week. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Engelhardt.