Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type



Women's and Gender Studies

First Advisor

Kelly Watson


Western academic literature exploring global music frequently perpetuates stereotypes about nonWestern music and countries. This stems from the implicit bias of Western scholars and musicians as well as the dominance of Western music in the U.S. and Europe. Resultant from this bias and these stereotypes is the exoticizing of non-Western music and nations that contributes to the “Otherness” that plagues ethnomusicological scholarship. This “othering” occurs despite the stated purpose of the field of ethnomusicology, which is to look beyond the music being produced and to instead focus on the cultural context in which it was produced. Thus, the state of ethnomusicological research today, which is plagued by ethnocentrism and white saviorism, calls into question its status as a form of activism. This paper argues that ethnomusicology can and should be a form of activism, with the activism being achieved best by applied ethnomusicology, a subfield that underscores the ethical responsibility of scholars to their subject. In doing so, this paper also explores the field the local level, ending with an exploration of how West Virginia University’s World Music Center can serve as a model for appropriate ethnomusicological activism.