ESEM XXXIII – Tbilisi, September 5/9 2017 – Call for Papers


The 33rd European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) will take place from Tuesday
5 September to Saturday 9 September 2017 in Tbilisi (Georgia), hosted by the International
Research Center for Traditional Polyphony of the Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire.

Ethnomusicology in the 21st century faces many new challenges. One of these is how we might give adequate expression to the wide range of functions for traditional music in contemporary society. To meet this challenge ethnomusicology has become ever more multi-thematic and multifaceted. It remembers its earlier roles, but at the same time it seeks new approaches and methodologies to address newly emerging tendencies of the modern world. Today we probably should talk about “ethnomusicologies” rather than a single “ethnomusicology”, since the range of disciplinary interests is now so wide, from the musical traditions of inaccessible, pre-modern peoples, surviving in the most isolated regions of the world, to multiply transformed and commercialized modern forms.

This is why we have decided to present the topics of the 2017 ESEM meeting under the common umbrella title “Ethnomusicology in the 21st Century”.


Topics of the seminar

  1. Ethnomusicologies in the 21st century: new research and methods

As a relatively new discipline, ethnomusicology has been subject to constant change, but following major modifications to the political map of the World during the last two decades of the 20th century, the changes have become more radical. Today, we speak about “ethnomusicologies”, signaling a multifaceted theoretical and methodological scholarly field and practice within and beyond academia, and one that involves various scholarly traditions around the world. However, despite the emphasis on diversity and the global flow of concepts and ideas, we can still trace an historical trajectory through which the set of discourses and practices associated with the “First world” approach prevail. Ethnomusicology itself has played an important role in decolonizing dominant approaches to the Western art music canon, and partly for this reason it has gained global prominence. In the spirit of the many current voices within the field calling for the decolonizing of our discipline, this topic invites a discussion of more diverse, more complex ethnomusicologies in the 21st century. It seeks to draw attention to a reflexive view of the present, but at the same time to enable future approaches to ethnomusicology in response to a world of ongoing change.

  1. Welcome to the Second World: Ethnomusicology in Former Communist Countries

In the 20th century the “iron curtain” divided Europe for many years, and this had a major impact on the field of (ethno)musicology not only in Europe but worldwide. The so-called »cold war approach«, involved complex relations of power and knowledge, represented by two polarized ideologies and approaches to the discipline, crudely mapped as “East” and “West”, schools and much influenced by the prevailing context of dichotomized public and political discourses. 28 years after the collapse of Berlin Wall, we may ask how questions of the bipolar world, totalitarianism, colonial and imperial legacies are re-narrated in ethnomusicological scholarly discourses in Europe East and West. Rather than maintaining a conceptual division between “East” and “West”, over-emphasized in scholarly deliberations and public discourses, we prefer to focus on the mutual constitution of Western and Eastern ethnomusicological scholarly traditions. We invite papers that thematize cultural representations of “European East and West” in ethnomusicological scholarship, focusing on cooperation and exchange, on mutual access to new trends and achievements, and on dominant topics and approaches before and after 1989. Papers addressing either changing approaches to, or perpetuation of, the old/new boundaries, divisions, and discourses of “European East/ and West” in today’s world are also welcomed.

  1. Market Economy Politics: The Many Faces of Traditional Music and Dance

In the 21st century, the larger part of the world has become a sphere of free market economies. Although the economic status of different countries and regions is far from equal, this new reality has certainly changed the way traditional music and dance, together with their performers and researchers, function in today’s societies, more and more subservient to the law of profit. Traditional culture, music and dance have become attractive “products” in themselves, actively negotiated by music industry promoters, filmmakers, lawyers and performers, and widely exploited by the tourist industry in advertising national products and brands. Within this topic we would like to discuss the benefits and dangers of commercialization, its impact on traditional music and dance, and the potential role of the ethnomusicologist in shaping the “supply and demand” process.



The Program Committee encourages the submission of proposals for individual papers, panels and posters

  • Individual paper – 20 minutes + 10-minute discussion,
  • Panel presentation – 90-minute presentations including discussion
  • Poster presentations, with a special session in which each panelist will have 10 minutes for his/her presentation. Presentations should be sent in advance in the required format.

Proposals including a 300-word abstract, full name and contact details of the presenter (as an attachment in word-file, not pdf) should be e-mailed to Prof. Rusudan Tsurtsumia

The deadline for the submission of abstracts: 15 March 2017

Announcement of a draft program: 1 May 2017


Program Committee
Dr. Rusudan Tsurtsumia (Georgia) (
Dr. Joseph Jordania (Australia/Georgia) (
Dr. Ewa Dahlig-Turek (Poland) (
Dr. Ana Hofman (Slovenia) (