left, ethnomusicology students Marzanna Poplawska, Nick Hockin, Amy Ingram and Hae Joo Kim
gather during the Society for
Ethnomusicology’s 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu.
Graduate Students, Alumni, Faculty Present Papers at Ethnomusicology
Nine Wesleyan graduate students studying
ethnomusicology ended a recent conference on a high note.
Each student presented papers at The Society for Ethnomusicology’s 51st
Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu. This year’s topic was
“The annual convention is the focal point of the year; these meetings offer
a great chance to network with fellow grad students, eminent senior
scholars, and former alums,” says Mark Slobin, professor of music. “In
addition, this is a record-breaking number of graduate students that
Thembela Vokwana presented “Can We Sing Together? Performing Nationhood
through Choral Festivals in South Africa.” Andrew Dewar presented "Sonic
Explorations: On the Analysis of Intercultural Experimentalism;” Marzanna
Poplawska presented “Diaspora or not yet--Indonesian Christians in the USA;”
and Junko Oba presented “280,000 Invisible Men: Music, Identity, and the
Story of Nikkei/Zainchi Brazilian Community in Japan, Summer 2005.”
Joo Kim presented "Riding the Wave of Nostalgia and Melodrama through Dae
Jang Geum;” Po-wei Weng presented “The Survival of Oral Tradition in a
Modernizing Genre: 'Oral Notation' in Taiwan's Peking Opera Percussion
Music;” Ian Eagleson presented “Rural Popular Music and Ethnic Identity:
Benga Dance Bands of the Luo Community in Western Kenya;” Chris Miller
presented "Indonessian Musik Kontemporer and the Issue of 'Western
Influence;’” Vincenzo Cambria presented “Decolonizing the Archive:
Documentation and the Production of Knowledge in a Participatory
Ethnomusicological Research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” Amy Ingram presented
"Parang: Finding a Place for Spanish Creole Identity in the Trinidadian National Calendar;
and Nicholas Hockin presented "Drums, Headscarves, and Mothers' Dances at Weddings in
Bamako, Mali: Local Change on the Margins of Globalization;”
Hockin's second time presenting a paper at the SEM conference. This year,
the Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, presented segments of his
dissertation, which is scheduled to be completed next year.
"Presenting our ideas in paper sessions allows us a chance to get vital
feedback from our peers, not to mention developing public speaking skills.
Networking is an integral aspect of the conference, enabling members to
share personal and professional insightsthat broaden our understanding of
the field and of each other," Hockin says. "And we develop a sense of what
the latest trends are by checking out presentations, reading paper topic
titles and abstracts, and by browsing and/or buying books.
In addition to the students, Slobin and Su Zheng, associate professor of music and East
Asian studies, chaired panels at the conference. Eric Charry, associate
professor of music and Rob Lancefield, manager of Museum Information
Services and registrar of collections at Davison Art Center presented
papers. Sumarsam, chair of the Music Department and adjunct professor of
music, attended the conference, along with several students and recent
The nine graduate students are among 22 current students studying music.
They are an unusually varied group, Slobin explains, including students from
Brazil, China, South Africa, Ghana, Mexico, Taiwan and Canada. They are part
of the 46-year old program's interest in drawing the widest spectrum of
students from among the substantial pool of applicants; selectivity runs at
about 20 percent.
The Music Department faculty wants their students to be well rehearsed, so
prior to the conference, they drill the students in the skills of preparing
a paper abstract, developing a quality 20-mimute presentation, and
delivering it in a lively and well-organized way.
our students' papers stand out for the attentive response they draw from
listeners, as opposed to the many droning, rapid-fire, or inaudible papers
we sit through at the dozens of panels,” explains Slobin, pictured at left,
Wesleyan ethnomusicology Ph.D candidate Amy Ingram has attended a few SEM
conferences in the past, but this was her first time presenting at the
conference, and her first time presenting her dissertational material to her
“I think that the conference is certainly a necessary rite of passage for
all grad students,” Ingram explains. “It helps us all to gain the
perspective of how our learning experience at Wesleyan compares to other
graduate programs. Receiving feedback from peers and committee members
certainly reinvigorated my motivation to keep writing, and meeting others
during the social moments between panels was really beneficial.”
Following the conference, the Wesleyan affiliates held a party to draw the
past and present students together.
In 2008, the SEM convention will be held at Wesleyan in the new Susan
Lemberg Usdan University Center.
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection
editor. Photos contributed.