First Conference of the IMS Study Group on the Global History of Music

Music in the Pacific World: Change and Exchange Through Sound and Memory

  • Organizers:
    Jen-yen Chen (National Taiwan University, Taiwan)
    David R. M. Irving (ICREA & Institució Milà i Fontanals de Recerca en Humanitats–CSIC, Spain)
  • Location: Taipei, Taiwan / Virtual
  • Dates: Thursday, 14 October to Sunday, 17 October 2021

Because of the ongoing and rapidly changing pandemic situation, the organizers of this conference have decided to arrange a virtual event. We appreciate your understanding during these trying times, and look forward to a future when we can share our research in person again. With the change to an online format, registration fees for this conference have been significantly reduced.

The year 2021 marks half a millennium since the Pacific Ocean entered a new era of global exchange, involving people from all parts of the globe, including sailors, slaves, merchants, and missionaries. The world’s largest ocean, the Pacific is home to diverse cultures within its many islands and along its borders with continents; the performing arts and their associated epistemological systems underwent immense transformations as societies came into contact with representatives of cultures they had not previously known, and as travel and trade intensified over large distances. Music and dance in their manifold forms of expression played important roles in articulating local identities and resisting colonialism or embracing change. Individual musicians and inanimate musical objects became liminal agents in negotiating the symbolic representations of the Pacific far from their geographical origins. Although the name of the ocean has been intended since 1520 to denote peace and fine weather, war and conflict often entered into this narrative. Over the past decades, musicologists have begun to examine the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as enclosed networks of exchange, circulation, and cultural transformation. There have also been many intensive and detailed studies of Pacific Island cultures from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. However, the Pacific Ocean—perhaps because of its size, greater than all continents combined—needs further scholarly consideration as a conceptual unit, bringing the coasts of the continents that surround it (the ‘Pacific Rim’) into productive dialogue with cultural experiences on the Pacific Islands themselves. This conference aims, in the quincentennial year of the first recorded east-to-west crossing of the Pacific, to reflect critically on the musical repercussions of global intercultural interactions within and across this ocean, for half a millennium. 


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