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date: 13 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues for the study of survivors’ music: the effort to document and understand the musical practices of people who endure or have endured violence and traumatic experience. Through a discussion of numerous cases worldwide, I discuss how survivors’ musical activities often are adaptive resources for survival and selfhood. I also discuss them as alternative histories that often tell dramatically different stories about experience than other expressive forms and historical records. I overview some of the primary ethical, intellectual, and practical issues that arise in the study of survivors’ music: the importance of people-centered scholarship, the complexities of witnessing, the importance and difficulties of documentation, the performative nature of survival, the need to study the musical qualities of survivors’ expressive lives beyond the rigid category of “music,” the centrality of collaboration and interpretation, the difficulties of blending activism and scholarship, and others.

Keywords: survivors, traumatic experience, violence, alternative history, activism, collaboration, documentation

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