MUTE’s main objective is to investigate for the first time empirically and theoretically the use of music and sound in situations of confinement and displacement from the Cold War to contemporary times. It explores their weaponization in light of transnational developments in technologies of terror. At the same time, it carefully attends to how music/sound can become a tool of survival, even in the same setting in which they are weaponized. Also explored are ethical challenges of such research, and of music programmes for prisoners and refugees, highlighting their shortcomings and providing alternative models. MUTE innovates through a theoretical framework that investigates the interlocking of politics, ethics, and aesthetics, focusing on the ethics of sound and ethics of witnessing. Its comparative approach extends to (post)colonial Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, Germany, Soviet Union and contemporary Russia, Iraq, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. MUTE will critically analyse this complex phenomenon across the disciplines of (ethno)musicology, social anthropology, history, critical theory, human rights law and sound art, since it cannot be fully grasped through the methods of any one alone. The PI’s extensive immersion into all disciplinary components over the last decade, evident in her novel approach, ensures the successful implementation of research objectives. MUTE’s findings and results will transform scientific discourse, changing current perceptions about music’s social function. This historical recovery is important in revisiting and assessing detention-related policies and current definitions of torture. Given recent mass asylum seeking in Europe and the growing number of music research projects with refugees, it will offer the needed ethical, methodological and theoretical foundations for present and future research, ensuring the well-being of participants and researchers, research excellence, and critically nuanced scholarship.
Fields of science
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