Thursday, February 14, 2019

Haitian-Immigrant Artists and the Political Aesthetic of Migration in Brazil’s Polarized 2018 Presidential Campaign

By Caetano Maschio Santos (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul)


*This article also appears in SEM Student News 14.2, Fall/Winter 2018.

I write during the first round of presidential elections in Brazil, between candidates Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad. Bolsonaro, a congressman with a military background and openly racist, chauvinist, conservative, and xenophobic opinions, runs as a member of the right-winged Social Liberal Party (PSL).[1] Backed by the army, landowners, Evangelical church leaders, and businessmen, Bolsonaro leads most public opinion polls, incarnating the idea of a national savior. Haddad, ex-mayor of São Paulo and Education Minister, runs as a member of the leftist Workers Party (PT).[2] Although widely credited with raising living standards for the poorest in the country and projecting Brazil onto an international political and economic stage, the party is also associated with corruption scandals and Brazil’s present economic and political crisis.[3]

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What's in a Name? New Questions Regarding Ethnomusicology of the Political

By Jon Bullock (University of Chicago)


*This article also appears in SEM Student News 14.2, Fall/Winter 2018.

This autumn marks twenty-five years since the publication of ethnomusicologist Philip Bohlman’s (1993) “Musicology As a Political Act,” an essay in which he asserted that musicology had entered a period of political crisis owing to its insistence on its own apolitical status (419). Today, even Bohlman’s opening anecdote of sitting in a bar watching MTV betrays the age of the article—after all, the MTV of 1993 is long gone, with reality television shows having replaced much of the music video programming that dominated the station’s air time throughout most of the 90s and early 2000s. But for better or for worse, Bohlman’s description of a musicology that deliberately avoided the political implications of its own discourse also now feels quaint. Even Georgina Born’s 2010 addition to Bohlman’s theories, in which she urged (ethno)musicologists to reconsider what music is and what counts as music to be studied (208–9), now seems to be common practice as ethnomusicologists increasingly take into account popular musics and discourses drawn from black, queer, and indigenous studies, among other fields. And if the field itself has changed since 1993, so has the world around us. Today, not being political seems as much a political act as any.