Olivia Bloechl, University of Pittsburgh, presents "Listening as a Contact Zone in the Jesuit Relations: A Global History Approach."
Ways of listening and knowing the world through sound ("acoustemologies") are culturally specific, and they have had a role in histories of colonial interaction and integration, as sense-based "contact zones." The speaker will illustrate this point with a case drawn from the history of missionization in Nitassinan (Innu territory in eastern Quebec/Labrador), as documented in the Jesuit Relations (1632–1673). Especially in the earliest field reports, the priests' minute documentation of song, sound, and listening outlines distinct Innu and French Jesuit acoustemologies, whose differences clearly mattered for all sides. Focusing on these listening "bodies in contact" (Ballantyne and Burton, 2005) offers a unique perspective on the close, improvisatory engagement of Indigenous and European people in a period of enormous regional upheaval. It also directs our attention to the larger stakes that can attach to sonic micro-interactions in world history.
Olivia Bloechl is professor of music at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a music historian and cultural theorist with wide-ranging interests clustered in the early modern period (1500–1800) and the recent past. Her historical research and teaching emphasize European early music, French opera in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, early Atlantic colonialism, and racial representation in musical theater before 1800. She is equally at home in the archive as at the piano, playing through early opera scores. As a theorist, she enjoys thinking about the ethics and politics of musical practice, interaction, and reflection. Recurring themes in her work include problems of recognition and difference, vulnerability, justice, coloniality and postcoloniality, and inoperativity.
This lecture is sponsored by the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme of Migration, Mobility and Immobility and the Department of Comparative Studies. Lectures in Musicology is co-sponsored by The Ohio State University Libraries.
Lectures are held Mondays at 4 p.m. in the 18th Avenue Library, 175 W. 18th Ave. (Music/Dance Library, second floor, room 205). These events are free and open to the public.