Music education and the colonial project

Stumbling toward anti-colonial music education

Authored by: Juliet Hess

The Routledge Handbook to Sociology of Music Education

Print publication date:  March  2021
Online publication date:  March  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138586369
eBook ISBN: 9780429504631
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429504631-1-5

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Abstract

Music education, historically and presently, has played an important role in the colonial project and enacts colonialism in multiple ways. I delineate how music education perpetuates colonialism through the pervasiveness of Western classical music teaching globally, the imposition of Western musical epistemologies to study non-Western musics, the use of music education as a cultural civiliser, the practice of musical tourism, and the representation of particular groups in music education. Given music education’s function in the colonial project, identifying how music education perpetuates colonialism allows music educators to resist and challenge these practices. Accounting for colonialism in music education requires a mechanism to understand the practices above not as disparate, but as connected, and potentially situated in the larger colonial project. As a theoretical framework, anti-colonialism provides music educators with language to consider these practices and understand their colonial potential. Moreover, as an oppositional framework, anti-colonialism allows music educators to resist colonialism operating within and through music education and move toward something more hopeful. I describe the tenets of anti-colonialism and conclude the chapter with the ways that anti-colonialism is positioned to address the colonialism operating in music education. Ultimately, I propose ways that music educators may draw upon anti-colonialism to move toward an anti-colonial music education.

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