Musicological collaboration between Javeriana University (Colombia) and Keele (UK) to assess LGBTI musical resistances with international impact

Text originally published in Pesquisa Javeriana.

Musicologist Luis Gabriel Mesa (Universidad Javeriana) and Ethnomusicologist Fiorella Montero-Diaz (Keele University) have secured international funding to study LGBTI musical resistance in Latin America.

The LGBTI population has been, and continues to be, subjected to abuse and violence at the hands of society, the State, religious groups, etc. This is why they often use music to protest against the discrimination they face. These are the findings of Peruvian scholar Dr Fiorella Montero-Diaz, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Keele University (United Kingdom), who, together with Javeriana’s own Doctor in Musicology, Luis Gabriel Mesa, secured a Global Challenges Research Fund Grant from the British Academy of Medical Sciences with the project ‘Sounding a queer rebellion: LGBTI musical resistances in Latin America’. With this research the scholars seek to emphasize the role of music in the resistance and resilience of LGBTI populations facing violence and discrimination.

Music researcher Dr Montero-Diaz says that, “winning this scholarship is a novelty even in the United Kingdom, because the Academy of Medical Sciences is not an entity that has historically been known to grant scholarships for the humanities and arts.” The success rate of this grant scheme is between in 6% and 8%, so accessing it is highly complex, mentions Dr Montero-Diaz. However, the topics, solid foundation and potential impact of the proposed project were key to the successful application submitted by these scientists from Latin America.

Luis Gabriel Mesa mentions that “this is a topic that has barely been studied from the point of view of arts. Compositions and musical events are used as a vehicle for reconciliation, to increase the visibility of these issues, and build spaces for psychological healing for those facing a violent society.”

 

This video outlines the application process of the research project, which was granted £ 23,690 (pounds) in funding, as well as the support received from the universities.

What is the project about?

Music, as voice for the multiple struggles of LGBTI groups, has become a political act that is intertwined with the desire to make amends and accept differences, says Mesa. Montero-Diaz, adds, “musical life becomes not only a mode of entertainment, but also a possibility for young people to show themselves, after years of apathy, fear of protesting and to define positions and ideologies.”

For the experts, recognizing that the queer community’s public protest had incorporated a protest music ‘soundtrack’ triggered a desire to investigate the LGBTI resistances displayed in music. So, the proposed project is an opportunity for different disciplines to examine and discuss a common topic of high social impact, as the study currently brings together 15 experts from five countries (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru). Javeriana researcher Luis Gabriel Mesa says, “We want to gather people from all disciplines: ethnomusicologists, musicologists, religious sociologists, psychologists, lawyers, visual anthropologists, visual artists, and the list continues to grow.” 

This research has already started, and its many activities will take place between June and October 2021. The project outcomes will include: audio-visual documentaries, a website, interactive maps, scientific publications, etc., which will document the use of music as tool of resistance within the LGBTI community, beginning with South American nations and aiming to expand to Latin America.

Impact

The researchers say that this project could contribute to securing equal rights and to stemming the widespread violence generated by ignorance, disinformation and negligence surrounding these issues., Disseminating and visibilising findings has the potential to generate immediate changes in how these issues are addressed within the institutions for which the experts work, in the academic day-to-day, in the classroom, in lectures with students, etc. The researchers highlight that another significant impact is the interdisciplinary, interregional dialogue that demonstrates the way this work crosses boundaries to contribute in different international settings.