Milton 2009

update: conference website:

ESEM XXV: Performance
The twenty-fifth European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) will take place from 18 to 22 September 2009 in Milton Keynes (UK), hosted by the Open University.

Conference theme
Performance has long been a topic of interest to ethnomusicologists, who have focused on perspectives such as the nature and boundaries of performance events, the relationship of musical and dance performance to other rituals, and the relationships between musical performance and the formation of social identities. In the context of recent moves within musicology to embrace the study of performance, and rapid growth in the use of empirical methodologies in this regard, this seminar aims to investigate the current state of ethnomusicological thinking on performance. How have ethnomusicologists – particularly, but not exclusively, working within European intellectual traditions – framed this topic, both theoretically and methodologically? How have ideas flowed to and from cognate disciplines such as anthropology, psychology and performance studies? What lessons does current ethnomusicology have for those disciplines, and for musicology itself?

Sessions will be built around themes, with presentations grouped as far as possible in ways that facilitate discussion and debate. The following list of themes and topics is indicative only:

  •  Performance spaces
  •  Temporality, coordination and ensemble
  • Communities and publics in performance
  • Roles and hierarchies within performance
  • The individual performer
  • Listening, reception and the meanings of performance
  • Gesture, embodiment and ergonomics
  • Transcribing and analysing performance
  • The ethnography of performance
  • Diachronic studies in performance

Free Papers
We will also consider including selected free papers in order to allow dissemination of important recent achievements in the field. However, abstracts related to the main theme will have priority.

The John Blacking Memorial Lecture – a regular feature of ESEM meetings – will be presented by Professor Richard Widdess (SOAS)

ESEM is a seminar rather than a conference: we host collegial meetings open to researchers from all over the world in which participants can gather to share ideas and discuss recent work in ethnomusicology in an informal setting. In order to do this, we may need to limit the number of paper presentations (which should not exceed 20 minutes in length), but nonetheless we do all we can to support those who wish to attend (for instance, by welcoming poster presentations). We also welcome proposals for complete panels (of up to 90 minutes). We shall also consider the presentation of research in the form of posters and a limited number of evening video projections.

Proposals should be submitted in the form of a 300-word abstract by email, in an attachment including your full name and contact details, to conference organisers Martin Clayton and Laura Leante at

Deadline: 1 March 2009
A draft programme will be announced in April 2009.

Programme committee
Martin Clayton (Open University)
Laura Leante (Open University)
Tina K. Ramnarine (Royal Holloway)
Giovanni Giuriati (Sapienza. Università di Roma)