Ethics in ethnomusicological research: Historical perspectives, emergent challenges

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Stock, Jonathan P. J.
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It is not surprising that ethical research practices are important in ethnomusicology, given the discipline's foundational interest in the study of music making of diverse peoples worldwide and its reliance upon long-term, immersive fieldwork. After describing why ethics remains a key focus and summarizing the distribution of the book into four parts, this chapter provides a disciplinary history for anglophone ethnomusicology of our engagement with ethics. First, in the period from the formation of the discipline from its several disciplinary predecessors, from the 1880s to the 1960s, we see that while ethical issues sometimes arose in the contact between researcher and researched, they were rarely treated as topics of in-depth, direct consideration. By contrast, in a second phase, embracing the 1970s and 1980s, some ethnomusicologists actively recorded the steps they took to ensure that they were able to form ethical relationships with those whom they studied, and so a new sensitivity to such matters begins to take form. This period overlaps with the so-called crisis of representation in anthropology, and in a third historical phase, from the 1990s onward, new ethical concerns accompany the reflexive turn that entered ethnomusicology at that time. The chapter concludes by noting that current global challenges - conflict, decolonization, democracy, education, environment, gender equality, human rights, migration, security, and more - demand an ethical turn that related the production of close-up, nuanced understandings to collaborative action toward sounder social formations.
Ethics , Ethnomusicology
Stock, J. P. J. (2022) 'Ethics in ethnomusicological research: Historical perspectives, emergent challenges', in Stock, J. P. J. and Diamond, B. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Ethics and Research in Ethnomusicology. New York: Routledge, pp. 3-15. doi: 10.4324/9781003043904-2
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© 2022, the Author. All rights reserved. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Stock, J. P. J. and Diamond, B. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Ethics and Research in Ethnomusicology on 30 November 2022, available online: