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Report on ‘Ethnomusicology in the Digital Age’ conference, Belfast

At the beginning of April, Tori attended part of the 2013 Joint Annual Meeting of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and ICTM-Ireland at Queen’s University Belfast, which focused on the theme ‘Ethnomusicology in the Digital Age‘. As the conference website put it, ‘Increasingly, digital technologies are mediating people’s engagement with music, posing new challenges to traditional ethnomusicological orientations. The theme for the 2013 conference, ‘Ethnomusicology in the Digital Age’, aims to confront these challenges by addressing the ways in which the digital revolution is affecting how music is conceptualised, constructed and used both by individuals and groups’.

Research on music and digital technologies in Latin America was well represented at the event, with papers on Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Peru. Thinking transnationally, other relevant work presented at the conference covered Brazilian migrants in Europe, and Lusophone musics.

Thematically, there were many connections to research in internet and digital culture studies, and many papers discussed social media platforms (notably Facebook and blogs, and unsurprisingly – given the prominence of music videos of one kind or another on the platform – YouTube). There were also sessions and papers on research methodology, covering issues arising in ethnographic research into/using social media and digital technologies, including ethics. Other topics covered at the conference which relate to the interests of the Latin American cyberculture project and its members included archives and archiving, memory, identity, indigeneity, and place and locality.

All in all this was a stimulating conference, which revealed research on digital technologies within ethnomusicology to be an interesting and promising cognate area for work on digital culture in Latin America, and beyond.



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