Report from the Joint BFE/RMA Research Students’ Conference, University of Bangor, 6-8 January 2016
Report compiled by Liam Barnard and Byron Dueck
10 January 2016
2016 got off to an auspicious start with the first Research Students’ Conference to be jointly convened by the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Royal Musical Association. As a vision of future conferences – the collaboration is set to be repeated annually – it shone.
Sessions were organised by theme, rather than geographical area or historical period, and this enabled interdisciplinary discussions of issues of interest to ethnomusicologists and musicologists alike, including diaspora, gender, and identity. There were accordingly abundant opportunities for attendees to learn from one other and find points of commonality (as one of us found while discussing polyrhythmic traditional styles from the African continent with a scholar of Beethoven). At the same time, there were occasions to focus on more discipline-specific issues, for instance in the panel on fieldwork methods, featuring input from the BFE’s Laura Leante and Stephen Wilford.
The keynotes by Nanette Nielsen (University of Oslo) and the BFE’s own Keith Howard (SOAS, University of London, pictured) were not only of exceptionally high quality, but acknowledged the interdisciplinary character of the conference. The student presentations were also excellent, as the conference chair, Chris Collins, acknowledged in his closing words. Collins himself deserves congratulation for a thoroughly enjoyable and well-run event.
All in all, the Bangor gathering bodes well for the future of joint RMA/BFE events. Next year, Canterbury Christ Church University will host the conference. Be sure to seize the opportunity to present your research!