We live in an era when millions of people across the globe—victims of forced migration, asylum seekers, refugees, and mobile workers—are on the move. Music often can tell more about the migration experience than statistical analysis and surveys. How might songs transcribe and preserve the identities, memories, traumas, joys, and hopes of individuals and whole communities? We will examine a wide variety of global case studies in ethnomusicology and related fields, connecting musical practices to prominent issues in migration. Our course will also be oriented toward activism and work beyond the classroom, particularly among refugee populations in Vermont. We will look at examples of arts intervention, learning techniques of peacebuilding through music and the performing arts. This course is open to all students.
The course is intended to provide students an introduction to foundational concepts of migration studies. The course will navigate this complex topic through four thematic anchors: (1) Time and Space, which will explore the history of migration from a global perspective, emphasizing the uneven development, colonial encounters, and environmental pressures that give rise to particular forms of migration; (2) Home and Belonging, which will consider the loss of home, the treacherous journey to “safety,” and the ensuing and often impossible struggle to “be at home” in a foreign land; (3) Discourse and Representation, which will analyze who speaks of and for the forced migrant, and how the displaced speak back; and (4) Law and Policy, which will examine the legal and political underpinnings of the contemporary global refugee regime and its development in specific areas. By the end of the term, students will have a working understanding of the causal forces producing displacement, the institutional structures that attempt to govern forced migration and displacement, and the myriad challenges faced by migrant and refugee populations seeking to navigate a new terrain and build a new home.