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ERIC Number: EJ804719
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 38
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 76
ISSN: ISSN-1545-4517
Social Justice and Music Education: Claiming the Space of Music Education as a Site of Postcolonial Contestation
Vaugeois, Lise
Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, v6 n4 p163-200 Dec 2007
In recent years, music educators have become interested in linking music education practices, programs and projects to issues of social justice. However, theoretical approaches to conceptualizing the problem or to developing strategic interventions have yet to occur within the field. In this paper, the author argues that to address social justice music educators need theoretical tools oriented to injustice, its causes and its manifestations. Addressing injustice means engaging with the political, locating themselves historically and coming to terms with their implicatedness in injustice. Critical exploration of their positionality and their philosophical assumptions is vital to this enterprise. Without such critiques they risk getting caught up in discourses of charity--discourses that too often result in "feel good" projects that valorize the giver while maintaining the inferior position of the receiver. Discourses of charity do not require them to ask how they have come to be in a position of "superiority" relative to those defined as being "in need." In contrast, critiques that examine the ways legal, economic and social systems--and the discourses that support them--produce and maintain systemic injustice can help move them beyond the limits of charitable models. The author's argument in this paper is that a number of assumptions attributable to Enlightenment philosophy interfere with the educators' capacity to analyze injustice. Contradictions between stated ideals, political claims and material reality are masked by liberal discourse, undermining their recognition of the ways they are implicated in systems of oppression. The author argues that the literatures of critical race theory and feminist post-colonial analysis provide necessary perspectives as well as analytical tools that are essential to addressing injustice. Part 1 of this essay explores contradictions in modernist frameworks that become evident when certain kinds of claims are considered in light of the history of colonization. Part 2 explores several foundational concepts used in the philosophical work of Bennett Reimer, David Elliott and Paul Woodford that reflect the contradictions identified in Part 1. The author's goal is to show how recognition of these contradictions opens up different kinds of questions--questions vital to the task of theorizing social justice within the context of music education. The paper concludes with a call to locate themselves politically; to look critically at assumptions of neutrality in their musical and social projects; and to engage with the legacies of modernist thinking, particularly as manifested in race, class and gender hierarchies, as they seek to develop socially just orientations in the field of music education. (Contains 28 notes.)
MayDay Group. Brandon University School of Music, 270 18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada. Tel: 204-571-8990; Fax: 204-727-7318; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A