Decolonising the musical university


These resources have been shared with us by delegates to our 2020 Virtual Event, amongst others. If you have a suggestion for material, please drop us an email or contact us on Twitter. Please note that although we do check linked resources before posting them, we aren't responsible for the content on external pages.

This resource list is divided into three sections, and a prologue:

  • Music, Musicians, Repertoire
  • Journals, Articles, Books, Blogs
  • Institutions, Organisations, Networks


Prologue: If I were a racist

Nate Holder speaking his poem, which featured in the opening panel of our 2020 event.

Video: If I Were A Racist by Nate Holder


Music, Musicians, Repertoire


From the site: "plainsightSOUND is a music research project, aimed at rediscovering colonial and postcolonial voices in British classical music. Focusing on the stories of classical musicians in Britain of African and Caribbean descent, including those from former British colonies, the project will explore their lives as well as their musical activity in Britain before 1970."

plainsightSOUND (external link)


Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora

Multi-volume edition published by Oxford University Press

Link to OUP site on the edition (external link)

Item details in University of Edinburgh library


Songs of Africa 

Collection of songs in choral arrangement, arranged by Fred Onovwerosuoke and published by Oxford University Press.

Link to OUP site on the volume (external link)


Fred Onovwerosuoke

US-based composer, born in Ghana to Nigerian parents. 

Fred Onovwerosuoke's website (external link)


Tunde Jegende

Tunde Jegende is an English-born Nigerian composer, cellist and kora player with a background both in western classical and West African griot traditions 

Tunde Jegende's website (external link)


Journals, Articles, Books, Blogs



Online journal (bilingual English & seSotho) published by the Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation. "herri is an attempt to answer the question: What does decolonization look like in this age of hybridity?"

Herri (external link) 


Music Theory's White Racial Frame

Philip Ewell's plenary talk "Music Theory's White Racial Frame", subsequently published under a slightly different title in Music Theory  Online, generated ... discussion. He has subsequently created a blog addressing the issue.

Article "Music Theory and the White Racial Frame" in Music Theory Online (external link)

Blog: (external link)


Decolonizing music education: Moving beyond tokenism

Article by Juliet Hess published in the International Journal of Music Education

Juliet Hess, "Decolonizing music education: Moving beyond tokenism" (external link, subscription required)

Direct link for members of the University of Edinburgh (EASE password required)


Decolonisation of higher education: Dismantling epistemic violence and Eurocentrism in South Africa

Article by Savo Heleta, published in the journal Transformation in Higher Education in 2016.

Savo Heleta, "Decolonisation of higher education: Dismantling epistemic violence and Eurocentrism in South Africa" (external link)


‘African’ drumming, the homogenisation of a continent 

Article by our panelist Nate Holder for Media Diversified. 

Nate Holder, "'African' drumming, the homogenisation of a continent"


More from Nate Holder on his website

Too many relevant posts! 

Writings (external link)

#DecoloniseMusicEd blog (external link)


Decentering Music: A "Sound" Education

Article by our panelist Matias Recharte published in the journal Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education.

Matias Recharte, "Decentering Music: A 'Sound' Education" (external link)


Decolonising the University

Book edited by Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial and Kerem Nişancıoğlu. 

Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial and Kerem Nişancıoğlu (eds.) Decolonising the University (external link)


The Language of African Literature 

Article by Thiongo  Ngugi Wa, suggested by a delegate as particularly relevant to the question of language and decolonisation.  

Thiongo Ngugi Wa, "The Language of African Literature" in New Left Review I/150 (March/April 1985); subscription required (external link)

Link to full article (University of Edinburgh only, EASE password required)


Towards a decolonial music education in and from Latin America (in Spanish)

Article by Favio Shifres and Guillermo Rosabal-Coto published in Revista Internacional de Educación Musical

Favio Shifres and Guillermo Rosabal-Coto, "Hacia una educación musical decolonial en y desde Latinoamérica" (external link)


Decolonised pedagogies: Insurgent practices of resistance, (re-)existance and (returning to) life (in Spanish)

Book edited by Catherine Walsh, published 2013. 

Catherine Walsh (ed.), PEDAGOGÍAS DECOLONIALES Prácticas insurgentes de resistir, (re)existir y (re)vivir (external link)


Decolonising the University (in Spanish) 

Book chapter by Santiago Castro-Gómez, publishd in Santiago Castro-Gómez & Ramón Grosfoguel (eds.), El giro decolonial. Reflexiones para una diversidad epistémica más allá del capitalismo global (Bogotá: Iesco-Pensar-Siglo del Hombre Editores), pp. 79-91. 

Santiago Castro-Gómez, "Decolonizar la universidad: La hybris del punto cero y el diálogo de saberes (external link)


Modernity and Coloniality

Website for a free online summer seminar (which ran in 2020? we're not sure) run by NYU's Ahmed Ansari. Links to readings and to audio recordings of the lectures.

Modernity and Coloniality (external link)

Ahmed Ansari's website (external link)


Living Sculptures that Stand for History's Truths

TED talk by Sethembile Msezane. "In the century-old statues that occupy Cape Town, Sethembile Mzesane didn't see anything that looked like her own reality. So she became a living sculpture herself, standing for hours on end in public spaces dressed in symbolic costumes, to reclaim the city and its public spaces for her community. In this powerful, tour-de-force talk, she shares the stories and motivation behind her mesmerizing performance art."

Website includes links to further resources. 

Sethembile Msezane. "Living Sculptures that Stand for History's Truths" (external link)


The Public Spaces of Black Women

Article by Ladi'Sasha Jones, written in parallel with Taylor Renee Aldridge, Jessica Bell Brown, Kimberly Drew and Jessica Lynne. 

Ladi'Sasha Jones, "The Public Spaces of Black Women" (external link)


Decolonization is not a metaphor

Article by  Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang published in the journal Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society.

Eve Tuck & K. Wayne Yang, "Decolonization is not a metaphor" (external link)


Hamilton – the diverse musical with representation problems

Article for The Conversation by our panelist Hannah Robbins.

Hannah Robbins, "Hamilton – the diverse musical with representation problems"


Audio Papers – A Manifesto

Article by Sanne Krogh Groth and Kristine Samson introducing a special issue of the magazine Seismograf. Suggested by a delegate in the context of discussions on the coloniality of the written word. 

Sanne Krogh Groth and Kristine Samson, "Audio Papers — A Manifesto" (external link)



Institutes, Organisations, Networks


Decolonizing the Music Room

Organisation founded by our panelist Brandi Waller-Pace. "Decolonizing the Music Room is a nonprofit organization using research, training, and discourse to help music educators develop critical practices and center BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian) voices, knowledge, and experiences in order to challenge the historical dominance of white Western European and American music, narratives, and practices."

Website includes extensive links to resources.

Decolonizing the Music Room (external link)


The Free Black University

"Education must be free, anti-colonial, healing, and accessible to all. We exist to radically imagine transformative worlds." 

The Free Black University (external link)


Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation at Stellenbosch University 

"Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation is an independent and autonomous interdisciplinary institute in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University. We work amidst the collapse of promise that pervades the exhausted state of music as a colonial academic discipline, pushing beyond its catechisms, its taboos, its hermetically sealed conversations, its silo thinking, its fear of change. We celebrate and curate the music archive as central to our desire for a future music studies, and cultivate a free space for interdisciplinary scholarship, experimentation and creative and intellectual risk-taking."

Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (external link)


Black Opera Research Network

From the website: "We use as a starting point a construction of Blackness that comes out of [the book] Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (2018, 6). Black opera is meant to chart a terrain in interdisciplinary opera studies that attends to the racialised politics of contemporary and historical cultural formations. In addition to Black composers and singers, it can also include a historical context and political directive for having Black voices tell their own stories and become full participants in a genre that had been closed through segregation."

Site includes an extensive list of relevant literature. 

Black Opera Research Network (external link)


EDIMS Network

A cross-organisational network which aims to promote, support and share good practice in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion in Music Higher Education in the UK.

EDIMS Network website (external link)


Multicultural Music Making 

Project working in primary and secondary schools in the West Midlands. Description by Natalie Mason, who runs the project with Friction Arts: "Rethinking engagement with international music in school settings, the MMM project is focused on making space for children (and families) to share music they are connected to, and learn and create new music. Developed by community musicians who wish to move away from tokenistic representations of 'world music' in schools, the use of culturally-responsive pedagogy has inspired my current PhD research."

Blog post "Multicultural Music Making: Family Connections" (external link)  

Blog post "Sharing ourselves: routes to creative engagement - MMM project" (external link)

Blog post "Multicultural Music Making in Birmingham" (external link)