Music and Diplomacy


We are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference on music and diplomacy, to be held at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University on March 1 and 2, 2013.

How does music (its concepts, practices, and institutions) shape the exercise of diplomacy, the pursuit of power, and the conduct of international relations? Scholars are increasingly asking these questions from a variety of disciplinary standpoints. While some have highlighted the ritual function of European court entertainments in the development of modern diplomatic practices, others have pondered the construction of (a)political meaning in musical events. From the musical performance of political conflict to the cultural conditions of peacemaking, scholars and practitioners have investigated the purposes and effects of music as “cultural diplomacy,” “public diplomacy,” “soft,” “smart,” and/or “sticky” power. Diplomatic patronage of all kinds of music (from opera to jazz to hip hop), the music-making of diplomats themselves, and the development of celebrity diplomacy have raised further questions about the politicized consumption of music.

This conference aims to provide a forum for interdisciplinary dialogue among scholars from various historical standpoints and diverse disciplines, including (but not limited to): musicology and ethnomusicology, government (international relations, political theory), peace studies, cultural studies, history, sociology, psychology, literature, and communication.

Keynote speakers include Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Associate Professor of Music at The Ohio State University.

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words, sent as email attachments to Please include contact information and affiliation (if any) on your abstract, as well as anticipated audio equipment needs. The deadline for submissions is November 19. Revised versions of papers will be considered for an edited volume planned for publication.

The conference is hosted by the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, with support from the Mellon Foundation.

Co-organizers: Rebekah Ahrendt, Mark Ferraguto, Damien Mahiet

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