Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan, Co-Directors

It is one of the principal axioms of contemporary life that music plays a central role in the formation of society and culture. Yet in the contexts of cultural studies and postcolonial scholarship, and, more particularly, in the transnational studies of race and empire, there has been surprisingly little written on musical matters. The formal discipline of ethnomusicology has made sizable contributions, but these initiatives have, in large part, focused on the particulars of local traditions. Cultural critics, moreover, have made important connections between culture and the broad spheres of political economy, race, and imperialism, yet only rarely have they considered music as a central factor in the equation. It would seem that music stands at once conspicuous and silent within the common frames of analysis explaining the history and legacy of race and empire.

The Music/Race/Empire research circle aims to correct this deficiency by assembling a diverse group of UW scholars who represent some of the main research methodologies and areas of global cultural study, and who share interest in exploring the various connections between music, race, and empire. By bringing together empirically-minded researchers with deep knowledge of area traditions and theoretically-minded scholars conversant in the critical study of global cultures, the organizers seek to widen the perspective of world cultural studies and to advance a new, critical focus on music’s centrality in the transnational production of race.