Ron Alexander Memorial Lectures in Musicology: Deborah Wong

Date and Time
Monday December 12th, 2022
4:30 - 6:00pm
Braun Music Center
541 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
Room 103
About this event

Speaker: Deborah Wong (UC Riverside)

Topic: “A Field Guide to Ethnomusicology and Illiberal Humanism”
Ethnomusicology is doubly or triply haunted by liberal humanism. As part of music studies, it carries the baggage of the humanities. As an ethnographic discipline, it wrestles with cultural relativism as an ideological value. Liberal humanism is the air we breathe in music studies, the arts, and the humanities. Its signs are everywhere, evidenced in assumptions around the free spirit, unitary subjectivity, the autonomous individual, democracy, freedom, the music object, and more. In ethnomusicology, one of its symptoms is a predominantly White institutional discipline (PWI). I draw on the emergent antitradition of people’s guides, and Rebecca Solnit’s Atlas trilogy and A Field Guide to Getting Lost to try to dislocate liberal humanism in ethnomusicology. I listen to Kandice Chuh’s call for “illiberal humanism” and offer a crowded planetary guidebook to imagining another ethnomusicology, with tips, tricks, techniques, directions, and playlists.

Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist and Professor of Music at the University of California, Riverside. She has written three books: Louder and Faster: Pain, Joy, and the Body Politic in Asian American Taiko (2019), Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (2004), and Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual (2001). She served as editor for Nobuko Miyamoto’s extraordinary memoir, Not Yo’ Butterfly: My Long Song of Relocation, Race, Love, and Revolution (2021). With Sherrie Tucker and Jeremy Wallach, she is a series editor for the Wesleyan University Press Music/Culture series. Active in public sector work at the national, state, and local levels, she recently joined the boards of RILM, the Chinese American Museum DC, and Great Leap. Her happiest hours of the week are spent going on air with her weekly radio show, Gold Mountain for KUCR 88.3 FM in Riverside.

Admission Information

  • Free admission
  • Note that Stanford University guidelines now state that masks are no longer required, but are strongly recommended. We encourage you to continue wearing masks for the comfort of our patrons, staff, and artists. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is no longer required.
Event Sponsor
Department of Music