Whose ‘Better World’? Reflections on Applied Music Interventions in the Andes

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This chapter examines applied approaches to music projects and scholarship in the Andes, including a special focus on the authors’ work among indigenous groups, respectively in Bolivia and Ecuador. Both countries are notable for the dynamism of their indigenous politics and for the high profile given to cultural politics over recent decades (especially in Bolivia under Evo Morales). In addition to reflecting on how we might understand “applied” music work in the Andes today, the authors take a historical perspective, arguing that the music of the indigenous Andes has been subject to a long history of outside interventions. Various examples are outlined, including the Catholic Church and indigenistas, which, in turn, help to place contemporary applied approaches into a broader historical context, raising questions about how new “applied” approaches might really be.
While Stobart’s extensive research in highland Bolivia, over more than 30 years, has included facilitating events that have brought together Bolivians from diverse backgrounds to debate issues such as music piracy, intellectual property, the fair use of indigenous music, and heritage making, he sees himself primarily as a researcher dedicated to documenting and analysing music-related phenomena. By contrast, Etxeberria Adrien began his ten-year engagement with the indigenous people of Sicalpa of Ecuador in an explicitly applied role as the facilitator of Participatory Action Research project in which local participants documented their own music. His subsequent research takes a critical and reflexive perspective on this project and its afterlife. Despite these differences, the authors bring out many shared dynamics, concerns and critical perspectives surrounding the potential impact and benefits of music-focused interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Applied Musicology
EditorsChris Dromey
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2022


  • Applied Musicology
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Indigeneity
  • Andes
  • participatory action research
  • indigenismo

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