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August 1, 2016

2016 MOMRI Annual Report: Music in Peacebuilding

June 2, 2016 at Yasuda Seimei Building Hall in Shinjuku, Tokyo

The MOMRI Annual Report Conference took place on June 2, 2016 with around 300 people in attendance. The four Research Fellows gave presentations, and Dr. Norihiko Kuwayama gave a performance. He is a medical doctor specializing in psychological care and arts therapy, representative of NPO FRONTLINE and performer around the globe.

After opening words by Min-On President Hiroyasu Kobayashi, Senior Research Fellow Olivier Urbain introduced some of the accomplishments of MOMRI since last year, in particular participation in conferences, publications and research content.


In 2015 and 2016, Research fellows attended conferences and gave presentations in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Norway and the US. Through these we were able to establish links with the Society of Ethnomusicology, the International Council for Traditional Music, and the department of History and Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast. We are currently in touch with many scholars from these organizations in order to develop our research on music in peacebuilding.

In addition, the staff of MOMRI in Japan have established links with Japanese ethnomusicologists and are planning a conference in Japan in the fall.

On June 3, we held a whole day conference culminating with a Panel Discussion on the theme of “Musicking and Identities: Models for Peacebuilding” with two Japanese guest speakers, Prof. Mia Nakamura and Dr. Norihiko Kuwayama.



Research Fellows Dr. Olivier Urbain and Dr. Craig Robertson have completed the publication earlier this year of a collective book entitled Music, Power and Liberty that was four years in the making.

In addition, Dr. Robertson has published three papers, one in the journal Thammasat Review based in Thailand, another in the African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review, and the third in a book entitled Protests as Events.

In addition, our team is preparing the publication of a special issue of the Journal of Peace Education on the theme of “music in peacebuilding,” the first time that this prestigious journal focuses on music. In this issue, besides our own articles, we are preparing two documents that will help structure our future work: an “intellectual guide” to establish a clear direction in our research, and a “critical literature review” that provides a survey of what many other scholars have done so far in the field of music in peacebuilding. This work will also help us lay the foundations for the future development of our website.


Content of Research

New insights acquired through our research are as follows. Olivier Urbain has made progress developing the intellectual guide mentioned above; Elaine Chang Sandoval has made new inroads into cosmopolitan music education; Craig Robertson has been developing a sociological theory of music as a mode of enquiry rather than a topic of enquiry. Michael Golden has continued his work regarding the ways in which musicking might contribute to improving our relationships with each other and with the rest of the biosphere.


Content of Presentations

Different Drums of Ireland
After the overall report mentioned above, Dr. Urbain summarized some research findings regarding a band called “Different Drums of Ireland,” established in 1992 in Northern Ireland, which mixes two types of drums that represent different traditions. The large lambeg drum is associated with the Protestant Unionists, whereas the smaller bodhran, a traditional Irish instrument, represents the Irish Nationalist tradition. Considering the violence that gripped the region during the Troubles (1968-1998), mixing the lambeg and the bodhran with other drums and instruments was a bold move.


 Peacebuilding Pedagogies: Learning from Musical Violence

Elaine Sandoval presented some findings from the work on the forthcoming Critical Literature Review, summarizing the research projects that have been pursued by other music scholars on the role of music in peacebuilding as well as on music in violence. She focused on the common theme that has emerged in the review, namely, the idea that learning about and participating in the music of cultural “others” can lead to empathy but can also lead to deepened antagonism. Sandoval then highlighted the importance of understanding historical contexts and of pedagogical practices in developing music interventions for peacebuilding that can achieve understanding and empathy instead of fear and antagonism. She provided the example of El Sistema, the music education system in Venezuela, to demonstrate ideas for accounting for historical context through pedagogy.


Operationalizing Music and Peacebuilding through Critical Public Relations

Craig Robertson showed that there is a clear connection between music and PR, and between PR/music and peacebuilding. Music and PR both ‘do’ some of the prerequisites that peacebuilding practitioners need to conduct their work. They both influence through emotions, reinforcing meaning and ideology and they both recognise and intrinsically operate within the fluidity of contextual meaning. Aligned emotions, meanings and ideologies are required for sustainable peace. Therefore, music and PR should have a significant role in peacebuilding. But we still have not operationalized this process.

Critical PR questions PR practices in terms of how and why it is produced, why and how does it emerge, what interests drive it and who is in it? This questions power, equality, identity and social change. These are exactly the questions to be asking in any music and peacebuilding initiatives as well. This provides an analytical start to music and peacebuilding operations.


Musicking and Peace: Insights from Ecology

Michael Golden reported first on his engagement with other artists and with his students on the subject of the arts in peacebuilding, indicating an enthusiastic basis for hope for the future of these endeavors. Turning to some specifics of his work bringing perspectives from ecology to bear on studying music and peace, Prof. Golden discussed the linkages between peace and violence in the social and environmental realms in terms of both causes and effects. He shared his conception of musicking as essentially an ecological behavior, one that connects us to our environments, and explored some applications of biology and neuroscience that suggest ways that musicking might help to heal the divisions that plague our world today.


Performance by Dr. Norihiko Kuwayama

Adding a practical dimension to our Annual Report, Dr. Kuwayama shared his experiences in Rwanda in the context of post-conflict reconstruction work using music and arts therapy. The public was treated to original music sung to slides and videos of his activities.


The Research Fellows and Staff of MOMRI appreciate the opportunity to share our report through this event and this website, and we will keep you updated regarding our most significant activities.