Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I attended a talk by John Comaroff today. He was so dynamic and exciting, and his topic was so similar to the issues I have been thinking about and reading about recently, that it really energized me. But it also precipitated something of a crisis that has been brewing for a long time. Am I really an ethnomusicologist, or am I more of an anthropologist? I considered many careers when I was in school, and after much personal indecision, and discomfort, I finally decided that the arts were the way to go. Not as a performer, though. I love textual analysis, critical theory and social research. I love working with people, and seeking to understand what is important to them, and how to make a difference to them. I identify so strongly with Margaret Mead's suggestion that to contribute to the store of human knowledge is the highest aim. I just wonder whether ethnomusicology is the right base. Anthropology is so established, and ethnomusicology feels at risk. The department in which I studied for four years is lucky if it gets one ethnomusicology honours major per year. They have reduced the course to a single semester this year. It is an incredible course. Last year was traumatic in some ways, but being in that course, in that class, was one of the things that held me together. I came to understand so much about myself from everything that happened last year. I was life-changing in the most fundamental of ways. This year has been a disconnect. I feel detached from my peers, my discipline, and my passion. I have studied everything I can in my discipline at my university. If I don't get to the states later this year, what will I do about my further education?
I guess the point is not that I have lost faith in what I do. I still believe that there is potential in what I do. I really do believe in the power of music, and the possibility of academia to change things. It just feels a little solitary right now.

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