Introduction XXIX European Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity

Sweers, Britta (September 2013). Introduction XXIX European Seminar in Ethnomusicology: Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity (Unpublished). In: Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity (XXIX European Seminar in Ethnomusicology). Bern. 04.-08.09.2013.

«Cultural mapping» has become a central keyword in the UNESCO strategy to protect world cultural and natural heritage. It can be described as a tool to increase the awareness of cultural diversity. As Crawhall (2009) pointed out, cultural mapping was initially considered to represent the «landscapes in two or three dimensions from the perspectives of indigenous and local peoples». It thus transforms the intangible cultural heritage to visible items by establishing profiles of cultures and communities, including music traditions. Cultural mapping is used as a resource for a variety of purposes as broad as peace building, adaptation to climate change, sustainability management, heritage debate and management, but can also become highly useful in the analysis of conflict points. Music plays a significant role in each of these aspects. This year’s symposium invites to highlight, yet also to critically reassess this topic from the following ethnomusicological perspectives:
- The method of cultural mapping in ethnomusicology
What approaches and research techniques have been used so far to establish musical maps in this context? What kinds of maps have been developed (and, for example, how far do these relate to indigenous mental maps that have only been transmitted orally)? How far do these modern approaches deviate from the earlier cultural mapping approaches of the cultural area approaches that were still evident with Alan P. Merriam and in Alan Lomax` Cantometrics? In how far are the methods of cultural mapping and of ethnomusicological fieldwork different and how can they benefit from each other?

- Intangible cultural heritage and musical diversity
As the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage pointed out in Article 12, each state signing the declaration «shall draw up, in a manner geared to its own situation, one or more inventories of the intangible cultural heritage, present in its territory and monitor these.» This symposium calls for a critical re-assessment of the hitherto established UNESCO intangible cultural heritage lists. The idea is to highlight the sensitive nature and the effects of the various heritage representations. «Heritage» is understood here as a selection from a selection – a small subset of history that relates to a given group of people in a particular place, at a specific time (Dann and Seaton 2001:26).
This can include presentations of case studies, yet also a critical re-analysis of the selection process, e.g. who was included – or even excluded (and why)? Who were the decision makers? How can the role of ethnomusicology be described here? Where are the (existent and possible) conflict points (politically, socially, legally, etc.)? What kinds of solution strategies are available to us? How is the issue of diversity – that has been so strongly emphasized in the UNESCO declarations – reflected in the approaches? How might diversity be represented in future approaches? How does the selection process affect musical canonization (and exclusion)? What is the role of archives in this process?

- Cultural landscape and music
As defined by the World Heritage Committee, cultural landscapes can be understood as a distinct geographical area representing the «combined work of nature and man» ( This sub-topic calls for a more detailed – and general – exploration of the exact relation between nature/landscape (and definition of such) and music/sound. How exactly is landscape interrelated with music – and identified (and vice versa)? How is this interrelation being applied and exploited in a (inter-)national context?

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg) > Center for Global Studies (CGS)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Musicology

UniBE Contributor:

Sweers, Britta


700 Arts > 780 Music




Britta Sweers

Date Deposited:

16 Sep 2014 08:42

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:36


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