The Music Scholars Lecture Series Presents
The George Washington University
“The Possessive Investment in Classical Music”
Friday, November 30, 2018 at 4pm
Leah Smith Hall (Room 2200), School of Music
Free and open to the public
Abstract: In the past few decades, music departments in U.S. colleges and universities have attempted to become more diverse and inclusive through initiatives designed to broaden their curricula and attract underrepresented students to campus. Faculty members and administrators have implemented strategies designed to increase minority representation, but they have largely left untouched the institutional structures that privilege the music of white European and American males. This privilege is disguised by race-neutral celebrations of musical excellence that make colorblindness (or colordeafness?) the default mode of daily interaction.
Drawing on the work of critical race scholars, including Cheryl Harris, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and George Lipsitz, this talk explores how U.S. music schools share a “possessive investment” in classical music that perpetuates, or is at least complicit with, the legacy of white supremacy. As such, the core curriculum in college music departments forms one facet of a discipline whose racialized legacy impedes our collective ability to imagine a more just and equitable future. By exploring the intertwined histories of music and race in our schools, this talk sheds light on present institutional imbalances and encourages creative and transformative thinking about the future of the discipline.
Loren Kajikawa recently joined The George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design as Associate Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology. For eight years prior he was employed at the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance. His main area of research and teaching is American music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and he offers a variety of courses, including Music in the Twentieth Century, Popular Music Studies, Hip-Hop Music History and Culture, and Music, Politics, and Race. Kajikawa’s writings have appeared in American Music, Black Music Research Journal, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Journal of the Society for American Music, and Popular Music and Society, among others. His book Sounding Race in Rap Songs (UC Press, 2015) explores the relationship between hip hop beats and racial representation. In addition to his publications, Kajikawa currently serves as co-editor of “Tracking Pop,” the University of Michigan Press’s series of books about popular music, and as a senior editor for Oxford Handbooks Online. He is also Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of the Society for American Music, published by Cambridge University Press.