Encountering the order and disjuncture of music projects in places of war

studioFive, Level 5, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Kwong Lee Dow Building, 234 Queensberry St, University of Melbourne VIC 3010

studioFive, The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education/UNITWIN partner are pleased to host this event by Dr Gillian Howell.

In the years following cessation of conflict in a country or region, what support is there for reviving the music activities of the community? Initiators of structured music activities must navigate their provision in settings that remain contested in social, cultural,political and economic terms and subject to the power asymmetry embedded within international aid funding. Any effort to intervene in such a context—in particular with a cultural signifier like music—immediately becomes a part of that context, and therefore required to navigate its tensions in varied and often unexpected ways. This presentation explores the phenomenon of music projects implemented within the structures and norms of international assistance through a framework of order and disjuncture, examining the ways their planned and intended order must respond to but ultimately will be shaped (constrained, amplified) by the messy and volatile wider context. Referring to examples of music schools in Afghanistan, TimorLeste, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, it examines the sociocultural dimensions and multifaceted outcomes of making music happen in war-affected and donor-dominated contexts.

Dr Gillian Howell is a musician, researcher and educator who leads and investigates participatory music projects in diverse and complex settings. She is a Research Fellow at the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University where she
researches the contributions of participatory music and arts to post-war community cultural development, peace and reconciliation, and social change. She is published in leading outlets including the International Journal of Community Music, Music and Arts in Action, and multiple Oxford Handbooks. She has worked in post-war development projects in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Asia.

Currently she is an associate artist for Tura New Music, regularly working in the remote Aboriginal township of Fitzroy Crossing on the edge of Australia’s Great Sandy Desert to develop collaborative music projects that support identity exploration and social healing.