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Maureen Mahon

Maureen Mahon, a cultural anthropologist, teaches in the ethnomusicology program in the Department of Music at New York University. She is the author of Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race (Duke University Press, 2004) and is currently at work on a book about African American women and rock and roll.

 

Abstract:

"Feminist Musicking and Educational Activism in Urban Spaces"

This roundtable discussion will explore different ways that women of and in the city promote, preserve and produce radical sound(s). How do female musicians and their allies create and use music to build sonic and other environments that shape and reshape urban spaces? How do musical performance, the act of songwriting, artistic mentorship contribute to building community?

In a societal framework that has inched from the 19th century consideration that playing violin was “unladylike” to the modern-day practice of relegating female performers to occasional “women in music” magazine issues, the very act of “forming a band” continues to represent an act of individual and communal empowerment. Women in a broad variety of forums – from grassroots organizations to artist coalitions to major cultural institutions – are working to put tools of musicking into hands of girls and young women and encourage them to act as agents of change in music and their urban communities. Their work is changing not only the musical landscape, locally and broadly, it is chipping away at the racial/ethnic and socio-economic compartmentalization of their urban environments.

Roundtable participants will discuss the roles women have played in constituting radical counterpublic cultures within cities -- from Ellen Stewart's La Mama theater to Judy Chicago's Womanhouse project in the 70s to the contemporary explosion of “girls rock camp” programs throughout the world – and how their own feminist musicking and educational activism work is continuing, broadening, and redefining the terms of that legacy