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) (


XXXII ESEM – Sardinia 2016 – Call for Papers

Cagliari and Santu Lussurgiu, 20-25 September 2016

Musics/Music Makers/Musicologists’ Transhumance

The 32nd European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) will take place from Tuesday 20 September to Sunday 25 September 2016, in Cagliari and Santu Lussurgiu (Sardinia) hosted by the Department of History, Cultural and Territorial Heritage of the University of Cagliari and by the Community of Santu Lussurgiu.

This year’s theme is inspired by an element of sheep-farming culture of the hosting island: transhumance. Although today it is less practiced than in the past (due to the recent changes of in pastoralism), in Sardinia transhumance has still a crucial relevance for the lives of many people. Every year, following the course of the seasons, men and flocks run through tread long established paths, from the mountains to the plains and then back from the plains to the mountains.

The concept of transhumance also has a strong symbolic significance in the Island of Sardinia’s traditional culture. It means leaving and returning. It cyclically entails human experiences both for travelling shepherds and for the communities of departure and arrival. It involves meeting with other people that determines mutual enrichments, through dialogue and (inter)action, through the circulation of knowledge, experiences, thoughts, and awareness, through taking over and drawing back, borrowing and ownership, etc.

We believe that this special idea of periodic people leaving and returning along known paths may be stimulating for our works. In particular, authors are invited to address their papers to the following topics:

  1. Musics back home. Musics have always travelled along unpredictable paths in unforeseeable ways. Indeed, until quite recently and prior to the invention of the phonograph, musics were the men and women who travelled and anything but de-personalized experiences. Music makers of all kinds (i.e., merchants, soldiers, pilgrims, seasonal workers, migrants, but also musicians, storytellers, buskers, specialists in the performing arts, and so on) went and came back, spreading something of their own music knowledge and bringing home something musically new. Recordings have dramatically changed everything: immaterial musics travel around the world via the media, often going on a quick round-trip, losing and acquiring something on the way.
  1. Musicologists back home According to Bernard Lortat-Jacob, the ethnomusicologist is not someone who goes out into the field, but rather, someone who goes back to it. Our work includes a continuous leaving and returning from home to the field and back again, which implies peculiar experiential situations. Moreover, also when “our field” is not so far away (as in the so-called “ethnomusicology at home”), our idea of a musical journey embodies a shift to other conceptualizations of music (and of the surrounding world). Inevitably, this coming and going involves a mutual enrichment for ourselves and our interlocutors, beyond the results of our music analysis and interpretations.
  1. Seasonal music paths. The passing of the seasons suggests the idea of a “cyclical time” during which things double back. But – as we know – that is not really how things work, since, ultimately, we are dealing with only apparent repetitions. Of course, this is noticeable about music performances, which cannot be faithfully repeated. However, seasonal musics or cyclical events that involve music acquire a special significance due to their cadenced flowing in time. This sort of leaving and returning, which is implicit in the cadenced recurring of seasonal music-making, concerns a special dimension of travelling, namely, the one of time travel.
  1. Transhumance of musical genres. Musical practice often implies a transmigration of genres and repertories. What is performed in one context is taken up and used in other settings with the transformation of performing practices, musical instruments, functions, and, occasionally, after undergoing further changes, it may even return to the original context. This has been the fate of several music repertories in these contemporary times of migration, globalization and the pervasive presence of popular music in fast changing societies.

Apart from the previous suggestions, the committee will also consider including a restricted number of free papers in order to allow the dissemination of important recent research, analysis and interpretations of specific music practices.

Proposals for individual papers (20 minutes + 10-minute discussion), or panels (90-minute presentations including discussion) are welcome. Due to the limited number of papers that can be accepted (willing to avoid parallel sessions), the programme committee welcomes presentation of research in the form of both poster and power-point-loop (where a limited number of slides is automatically repeated – only .ppt format) which will be accessible throughout the entire conference in suitable media stations. Furthermore, a special session of the Seminar will be devoted to this form of presentation in which each panellist will have 10 minutes for his/her presentation.

Proposals including a 300-word abstract, your full name and contact details to: or

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 28 February 2016.

A draft program will be announced in April 2016.


Programme committee

Ignazio Macchiarella (Chair) (

Ardian Ahmedaja, (

Giovanni Giuriati (

Ursula Hemetek, (

Marco Lutzu (





ESEM Limerick 2015: Registration – Travel and accommodation – Draft programme

Registration is now open for ESEM in Limerick, 16th-20th of September.
We are accepting payment through paypal only. To make a payment you can follow this link to log on to your own paypal account or to set up an account
The email address to send your payments to from Paypal is This is also our main contact address: ESEM2015@ul.i

The fee structure is as follows:
EARLY BIRD RATE for registration by July 1st 2015
Students and Unemployed – 50 Euros
All others – 65 Euros

REGISTRATION between July 2nd and August 20th, 2015 (closing date)
Students and Unemployed – 75 Euros
All Others – 95 Euros

Optional Extras:
Wed 16th Sept – Conference Dinner, shared with SEM-ICTM joint forum delegates – 20 euros.
Sat 20th Sept – Excursion to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park – 30 euros.

Please add either/both of these extras to your registration where applicable:
(e.g. 50 + 20 for early bird student price with dinner = 70 euros )
(e.g. 65 + 20+ 30 for early bird non-student registration with dinner and excursion = 115 euros )
Any questions please email ESEM2015@ul.i


Travelling to Limerick
Limerick City is close to Shannon International Airport (20 minutes). Shannon is serviced by a number of routes from the UK, Europe, and North America. It is also connected internationally by short flights from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and London Stansted, as well as other major and regional UK and European Airports. A second airport that services the province is Cork Airport with similar UK and European connections. Cork is a 1.5 hour drive from Limerick.

There are many more direct international flights to Dublin International Airport. Dublin is about a 2.5 hour drive from Limerick and car hire is available at the airport. Dublin Airport is served by a very comfortable coach (Dublin Coach, known as ‘the green bus’) which drops passengers off at the University of Limerick with minimum stops on the way (and just one quick change at the Red Cow Roundabout in Dublin). This service costs 10 euros each way from Dublin city Centre (near the gates of Trinity College), and 15 euros each way from the airport, and can be purchased on the day or online at . Another option from Dublin Airport to the Hurler’s Pub in Castletroy, near the university

Limerick Train station and bus centre (Colbert Station) is well serviced by regular trains and bus links from from across the island, including from the main cities of Dublin, Cork, and Galway, and Belfast. See for a full listing of train services to and from Limerick and see for a full listing of bus services to and from Limerick. A taxi from the station to UL costs around 7-8 euros depending on time of day and traffic.

ESEM itself takes place in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick The building is located right on the banks of the River Shannon in a scenic and environmentally friendly campus. The Academy recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary and is home to a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses that relate to the study and practice of music, song, and dance in a variety of scholarly, applied, educational, arts practice, festive arts, and clinical contexts. The venues for the Forum events include the cylindrical Tower theatre and the main theatre, Theatre 1. The Academy building features a beautiful mosaic which tells the story of the River Shannon and there is a comfortable cafe onsite (as well as a variety of other eateries within easy reach). Throughout the week there will be various performances of different genres of music, song, and dance to entertain attendees, as well as opportunities to relax and have more informal discussion in project rooms and in the comfortable surroundings of the Pavilion complex ( right next door to the Academy building.

Limerick City and suburbs offer lots of good and reasonably priced accommodation options. There is a wide variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts and other places to stay (check for full listings).

If you want to stay near the university, you can book a room at the Castletroy Park Hotel. Email Charlene at and quote the code 1532652 to receive a discount (85 EUE for a single room and 95E for a double room bed and breakfast).
You can also try the Kilmurray Lodge Hotel. Faye will be happy to offer discounted rates (59 EUR for a single and 75 EUR for double or twin B&B) from 16 to 20 September quoting 222010. Booking is limited and on a first come first serve basis. The Travel Lodge is also close by. Other hotels in Limerick City Centre include The Raddison Blu, the Limerick City Hotel, The George Boutique Hotel, the Absolute Hotel, and many more within a five to ten minute drive.

Any questions, contact ESEM2015@ul.i
The local arrangements committee in UL very much looks forward to seeing you.


Call for Papers Limerick 2015

Making a Difference: Music, Dance and the Individual

The 31st European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) will take place from Thursday 17 September to Sunday 20 September, in Limerick, Ireland, hosted by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.

Our meeting this year is unusual in being paired with a joint Forum of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) and Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), Transforming Ethnomusicological Praxis through Activism and Community Engagement, that is being held at the same venue from September 13-15 (see Because of this fortuitous conjunction, members of all three organisations will have an unprecedented opportunity to meet together on Wednesday 16 September in a single plenary session of invited speakers, followed by a concert at the Academy and a dinner. ESEM meeting participants are invited to register for this pre-conference event in addition to the regular conference sessions.

This year’s theme, Making a Difference: Music, Dance and the Individual, will focus our attention on the possibilities for research that take as their starting point the individual.

We invite ESEM members to explore the ways in which attention to individuals (musicians, dancers, listeners, producers, promoters, activists or indeed people who occupy any of the myriad roles relevant to dancing and musicking) might offer a usefully different perspective than the more usual and well-established approaches in ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology to the study of music/dance in relation to social groups. How do individuals act upon and affect the worlds in which they live? What are their relationships to communities around them? What are their distinctive roles in the making of music and dance?

Possible topics that develop this theme might be framed around issues such as, but certainly not limited to:

• The individual as methodology: between partial truths and total social facts?
• Life stories: between biography and auto-ethnography?
• Case studies: between the individual and the group?
• Singular individuality: between stability and change?

A focus on the individual also invites attention to topics such as:

• Outstanding performers
• Key figures
• Mavericks
• Music and dance cognition
• Individual repertoire
• Individual style
• Individual creativity

These are suggestions and by no means exhaustive.

We welcome papers of any kind inspired by the theme. Perhaps participants will want to further develop themes taken up in the joint Forum.
As always, we invite contributions of new research outside the scope of the theme.

Presentations may be in any of three basic formats: independent papers (20 minutes + 10-minute discussion), panels (90-minute presentations including discussion), and poster presentations which will be accessible throughout the entire conference and allotted 10 minutes for their individual presentation. The program committee encourages you to consider the possibilities and benefits of the poster format in planning your presentation.

Colleagues who wish to join the conference discussions and opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and ideas but not make formal presentations are also cordially invited to attend and participate.

Proposals including a 300-word abstract, your full name and contact details (as attachment; word-file, not pdf) should be submitted to:

Deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 February 2015:

Call for papers Prague 2014

ESEM XXX: Crossing Bridges

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: January 10th, 2014

The XXX European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, September 3-7, 2014, in Prague, the Czech Republic. The principal host will be the Institute for Ethnomusicology of the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University.

The basic thematic frame of the conference –  “Crossing Bridges” – is inspired by the venue: Prague, a metropolis not only on both banks of a river, but also combining in history – in the words of Bruno Nettl (1993) – “Czech and German languages and cultures,” and “reaching an equilibrium between Christians and Jews.” The visible shape of Prague witnesses transmission and crossing at each step. And it is exactly here, in the dynamics of the most various interactions, that we see a metaphor for the seminar. Continue reading