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Elizabeth Blaufox Presents Paper on Music and Culture at Harvard University

Elizabeth Blaufox, Manager of the Boosey & Hawkes Rental Library in New York, will present a paper entitled “Reclaiming a Voice: Music and the Role of Cultural Diplomacy in Post-Taliban Afghanistan” at Harvard University’s 2013 Graduate Music Forum Conference on Saturday, February 23. Ms. Blaufox is in her second year of study towards a Master’s of Arts degree in Historical Musicology at the City College of New York, specializing in twentieth-century music. Ms. Blaufox’s research looks at Afghanistan’s cultural history over the last thirty years, starting with the effects of the Soviet and Taliban occupations on culture and music.

Following the advent of the Afghan-American War in 2001, Afghanistan entered a period of transition as it seeks to establish a democratic government and reclaim its cultural identity. Key to this transition is foreign aid in the form of cultural diplomacy, in which artists and musicians engage in dialogue with Afghani musicians to foster an exchange of culture and ideas. At the present time, a resurgence of music is taking place within Afghanistan and a nation that has long been silenced is reclaiming its voice.

From the abstract: “This presentation explores the history of occupation of the last thirty years and its profound impact on Afghan music, building upon the seminal scholarship of John Baily. I, then, contextualize the current musico-diplomatic activities within the framework of the cultural imperialism of the past, in addition to problematizing the ethical issues inherent in such work. When examining the work of cultural diplomacy, such questions arise as, how does cultural exchange, and music in particular, foster stability and endow a region with a sense of national identity? Why is Western culture the vehicle by which this exchange takes place? Where is the line between cultural imperialism and cultural diplomacy?”

Fourth Annual Harvard University Graduate Music Forum Conference
Music at the Margins
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Harvard University Music Department
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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