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ERIC Number: EJ842515
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-8
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Scholarly Discord
Pellegrinelli, Lara
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n35 pB6 May 2009
Even with President Barack Obama's promises to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and withdraw troops from Iraq, the subject of torture keeps making the news. With all that detainees have had to endure during their incarcerations--the recent memos detail stress positions, cramped confinement, and waterboarding, among other tactics--perhaps what has attracted the least attention is music torture. As early as 2003, the BBC reported that during interrogations the U.S. Army had exposed detainees for prolonged periods to loud music, including Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and "I Love You," the popular children's song by Barney the dinosaur. The use of music torture has provoked little public outcry, perhaps because the prospect of hours spent listening to Barney sounds more like a bad joke than anything truly harmful. Suzanne Cusick, a professor of music at New York University, says the single most important reason behind the dismissal of music torture can be simply explained: "We who care about music have not yet adequately answered the question, "Isn't it better than breaking their legs?"" Since 2006, Cusick has published two journal articles on the theory and practice of music as torture. Along with hooding, wall standing, sleep deprivation, and erratic provision of food and drink, music torture counts among the commonly cited techniques designed to extract information without leaving physical evidence. An active military conflict might seem like odd territory for a musicologist. As a matter of fact, Cusick's work is unusual. While political scientists, anthropologists, historians, and those in media studies have engaged in the debates surrounding Iraq and the war on terrorism--both in and outside the academy--responses from music scholars have been comparatively few, slow, and circumscribed. Whatever kind of difference the work of scholars like Cusick makes, it may take a radical new, new musicology--one that looks more like the work of public intellectuals who equip themselves to participate in broader dialogues--to fully deal with the complexities of contemporary politics going forward into the 21st century.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iraq