(via Savage Minds) Can a discussion about the use of music in torture shed new perspectives in our debates about the use of anthropological knowledge in torture, askes Kerim Friedman on Savage Minds. Jason Baird Jackson points in his comment to the Society for Ethnomusicology’s position statement on the use of music in torture:
The Society for Ethnomusicology condemns the use of torture in any form. An international scholarly society founded in 1955, the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) and its members are devoted to the research, study, and performance of music in all historical periods and cultural contexts. The SEM is committed to the ethical uses of music to further human understanding and to uphold the highest standards of human rights.
The Society is equally committed to drawing critical attention to the abuse of such standards through the unethical uses of music to harm individuals and the societies in which they live. The U.S. government and its military and diplomatic agencies has used music as an instrument of abuse since 2001, particularly through the implementation of programs of torture in both covert and overt detention centers as part of the war on terror.
The Society for Ethnomusicology
* calls for full disclosure of U.S. government-sanctioned and funded programs that design the means of delivering music as torture;
* condemns the use of music as an instrument of torture; and
* demands that the United States government and its agencies cease using music as an instrument of physical and psychological torture.
There’s also a link to the paper by by Suzanne Cusick: “Music as Torture, Music as Weapon”, published in Revista Transcultural de Música/Transcultural Music Review 10 (2006) that starts with these lines:
This paper is a first attempt to understand the military and cultural logics on which the contemporary use of music as a weapon in torture and war is based. After briefly tracing the development of acoustic weapons in the late 20th century, and their deployment at the second battle of Falluja in November, 2004, I summarize what can be known about the theory and practice of using music to torture detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. I contemplate some aspects of late 20th-century musical culture in the civilian US that resonate with the US security community’s conception of music as a weapon, and survey the way musical torture is discussed in the virtual world known as the blogosphere. Finally, I sketch some questions for further research and analysis.