null What are the interfaces and interactions between politics and music education?

What are the interfaces and interactions between politics and music education? This was the question that drove the twenty-fourth Cultural Diversity in Music Education Conference (CDIME) which was hosted by the Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv, Israel between 16 and 19 June 2019. Israel was an apposite choice for this conference and theme, and Claudia Gluschankof and Amira Ehrlich acquitted themselves exceptionally well of the daunting task of arranging a conference which has no professional body behind it. Politics and difference were at the forefront of participants minds, given the troubled history of the region, and the first keynote set the stage for a continued engagement with the complexities of the political situation in Israel and further abroad. The second keynote challenged the idea of the idea of a ‘global ecumenia’ in music education, a utopian peaceful co-existence that is accessible through good teaching and in which music is neutral, arguing instead for the role of theory as a generator of practices through shaping thought and imagination. The third keynote argued for a strong parallelism between eastern and western music that should emphasized rather than downplayed.

The uneasy tensions of being in a country that is clearly divided, with checkpoints, segregated living areas, and armed young soldiers walking the streets, together with the uneasy tensions of holding a conference on cultural diversity in a college that clearly values and emphasises the western classical tradition over the local musics, provided fruitful ground for rigorous debate and discussion. While quick and superficial answers are easy, I think most attendees of this conference came away with a deeper understanding of the complexities involved when thinking about politics and music education. Such a deeper understanding will hopefully feed into stronger theorization on the role of the political in our work, and thus pave the way for better founded engagement across diversity.

The twenty-fifth CDIME conference is scheduled to take place at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, between 13 and 16 September 2021. As conference organizer I warmly welcome you to South Africa for what promises to be further fruitful discussion around belonging and diversity in music education. 


Albi Odendaal