Born Abstract – Københavns Universitet

Keynote speaker Georgina Born

Sound / Music / Space: Year Zero, Encompassment, Difference?
The Call for Papers for this 2nd ESSA conference calls, insightfully, for reflection on the constitution and future of sound studies, for consideration of its plurality, its inter- and trans-disciplinary nature, and its methodologies. The CFP stressed the need for ‘a restless testing of the epistemological, theoretical, methodological, and historical premises defining the field of sound studies’. In this spirit, this paper starts out by addressing the unresolved and sometimes uncomfortable relations that have been set up between sound studies and music – both music as a field of creative practices, and the academic music disciplines. I take my recent edited book, Music, Sound and Space as one example of how the disciplines might be realigned more consciously without the necessity to declare sound studies as a disciplinary ‘year zero’, and notably through an awareness rather than a denial of the histories and the continuing inter-disciplinary tensions between sound studies and music. The suggestion is that this alone will enable a consciousness of the disciplinary impasses of the past, and thus protend a more open and generative set of futures.

Georgina Born is Professor of Music and Anthropology at Oxford University, and was previously (2006-10) Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Music at Cambridge University. From 2013-15 she is Schulich Visiting Professor in Music at McGill University, and in 2014 she is also Bloch Visiting Professor in Music at the University of California, Berkeley. Earlier, she was active as a performer and improviser, playing with Henry Cow, the Mike Westbrook Band, Derek Bailey’s Company and the Feminist Improvising Group among others. Professor Born’s work combines ethnographic and theoretical writings on music, media and cultural production. Her books are Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde (1995), Western Music and its Others: Difference, Representation and Appropriation in Music (edited with D. Hesmondhalgh, 2000)), Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC (2005), Music, Sound and Space: Transformations of Public and Private Experience (CUP, 2013), and Interdisciplinarity: Reconfigurations of the Social and Natural Sciences (edited with A. Barry, Routledge, 2013). She currently directs the research program ‘Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies’, funded by the European Research Council, which examines the transformation of music and musical practices by digitization and digital media through comparative ethnographies in six countries in the developing and developed worlds. Her article ‘For a relational musicology: Music and interdisciplinarity, beyond the practice turn’ (JRAI 2010) was the focus of an AMS/SEM/SMT plenary panel at the joint societies’ 2012 meeting.