Sound Studies Institute Livestream

The Conditional Institution: Expanding Access in Music Institutions

Date: Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

Time: 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Join Zoom:
 https://ualberta-ca.zoom.us/j/97403243755?pwd=NHNaN3AxMi92eGJ1Z2NTbExOUGJwdz09

with Julia Byl

Too often, the work of creating institutions is clear up close, but invisible at a distance. Such is the case with the institutions built by Dr. Regula Qureshi at the University of Alberta: the names (Sound Studies Institute, Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology) are short and formal, with no real place to log the decades of work that created them. Often, these institutions were formed by those outside of academia, for instance, the South Asian community in which Qureshi played since the late 1960s. This paper is an examination of how access and credit is expanded when we view institutions as conditional and informal. I draw on a few examples, including Qureshi’s work at the University of Alberta and the institution building of Portia Maultsby at Indiana University. Crucially, seeing how an institution is based upon relationships allows us to recognize the contributions of those structurally excluded from them.

Dr. Julia Byl joined the University of Alberta in 2015, after serving at King’s College London for three years as a post-doctoral fellow and Malay Case Study leader on the European Research Council project, “Musical Transitions to Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean.” She received her doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of Michigan, studying with Judith Becker and Richard Crawford. She has taught at King’s College London, the University of Illinois, Pomona College, and her alma mater, St. Olaf College, where she was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow. Her recent book, Antiphonal Histories: Resonant Pasts in the Toba Batak Musical Present was published in 2014 as a part of Wesleyan University Press’s Music/Culture series.

Julia’s research centers on the intersection between contemporary performances and the musical past, between ethnography, historiography, and archival work: How can we reanimate past musical activity that may now seem dry and inert, but was once vivid and alive to the vagaries of performance? Conversely, how do we decide when a musical legacy is still relevant to a contemporary tradition, and avoid fetishizing tradition at the expense of dynamic self-expression?