Published in RPM 29 (Winter/Spring 1999/2000)


Dear IASPM members,

The newly elected executive committee is already hard at work on several projects. As you will see, the first of these is the call for papers for the 2001 conference, scheduled for 6-10 July 2001 in Turku, Finland. Please spread this call as widely as you can. Post the e-mail message to the lists you belong to. Xerox and distribute paper copies to your colleagues, pin it up on your door, and send it to friends. The more people who submit proposals, the more interesting and challenging the final program can be.

We’ve created an ad hoc committee to evaluate the possibility of an IASPM book prize. Claire Levy and the members of this committee (Lutgard Mutsaers, chair, Shuhei Hosokawa, Antoine Hennion, and Juan-Pablo Gonzalez) will make proposals that will appear in an upcoming issue of _RPM_ for discussion by the general membership. The single biggest problem with this idea is, of course, the hegemony of English and the concomitant logistical difficulties of judging works in “small” languages and non-European languages in particular. But we remain committed to exploring the idea as thoroughly as possible, and I have enormous faith that this committee will incite an important conversation for us.

We’re working with several press editors and several volume editors on a book series proposal, as we discussed in Sydney. This project is in very early stages, but is quite promising, and Sheila Whiteley’s work on it has already been vast. You will surely here more about this initiative, too, in upcoming _RPM_s.

We are in contact with scholars in several countries looking to form new branches or revive old ones. Keith Harris has been working in particular with Czech, French, and Latin American branch members who are reinstating or consolidating their branches, and there are several new branches in the works.

As you’ve probably discovered, our web pages have a new URL. After much discussion, Heinz-Peter Katlewski succeeded in establishing as our domain name, and as another that we own. An intuitive URL will help people find us more easily, and that’s important for both the organization as a whole and its individual members. Of course, the _RPM_ you’re reading is another piece of Peter’s ongoing and monumental service to IASPM.

On a more personal note, I've been thinking a lot since Sydney about interdisciplinarity, for several reasons.

I keep wondering if and how all of these things are connected. It was never the case that disciplinarity lost its hold on academic life and academic identities, so my question about musicologists surely seemed disingenuous from at least some perspectives. By most reckonings, the answer is simple; musicologists are people with musicology Ph.D.s. The retrenchment I’m noticing definitely prefers the simple answer.

Training. Disciplinary imprimatur. The appropriate hoop-jumping. But if we have been right, in IASPM, to bring outside methodologies into musicology and musicological methods out into other disciplines, then the “training” answer is too simple. For me, IASPM creates the most welcoming environment for cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary study of any organization I know. That's why I keep choosing to put energy into it.

As for IASPM’s flaws, there are enough to keep all of us busy.

  1. Will Straw was right; IASPM is not as confrontational as it once was. I certainly hope we can revive some of that vitality, preferably without its more unpleasant and ad hominem forms. The executive committee is certainly open to suggestions along these lines during the early days of conference planning.
  2. While I have not seen it myself, if Jan and others are right, and we are less welcoming to members from the music disciplines, we certainly should address that, too.
  3. While I am deeply honored to be the first woman chair, and chair of a majority female executive committee, there is plenty of room for more women and more work on women and gender; for more non-European people and more work on musics outside of the US/UK tunnel vision syndrome; for more work not on youth musics; and so on. There’s definitely enough room for improvement to keep us all busy.

But to my mind, the most important task before us is to understand, value, and nurture IASPM's extraordinary intellectual generosity and openness. We can and should put energy into opening new avenues of work without losing sight—or sound?—of what an unusual model IASPM provides for each of us.

24 December 2000

Anahid Kassabian, Chair
IASPM - The International Association
for the Study of Popular Music