[Vol. 21 No. 2] EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE: AN ETHNOMUSICOLOGIST LIVING AND WORKING IN KOREA

Title
Title Everywhere and Nowhere: An Ethnomusicologist Living and Working in Korea
Author
Author

Hilary Vanessa Finchum-Sung

Volume

Vol. 21 No. 2

Pages

pp. 423~442 (all 20 pages) 

Publication Date

2018.12.15

Keyword

ethnomusicology, bimusicality, autoethnography, kugak, fieldwork

Abstract

Auto-ethnographies tracing the fieldwork encounters of anthropologists have become integral to understand the processes of the ethnographic endeavor. In ethnomusicology, ethnographic methodology remains the sine qua non distinguishing our work from that of the musicologist. The field is ubiquitous in our work as the space within which we accumulate the experiences informing our analyses. Equally ubiquitous is the assumption that the field exists outside of our ‘real lives’ (Rasmussen 2004). Yet, with transcultural professional lives becoming increasingly common, and more scholars establishing professional roots in locations formerly allocated as ‘the field,’ there exists an obvious need for a reconsideration of and new fluidity in ethnographic research. If “fieldwork is, in reality, just living” (Reed 2003), then this way of life deserves a consideration in all its complexities, diving into the interstices of personal, professional, and artistic identities.
In this article, I explore the overlapping and ephemeral spaces of the ethnographic self in the Korean context. Drawing on my own experiences as a non-Korean researcher of Korean music and professor in a department of Korean music, the paper inescapably takes the form of auto-ethnography. The article uncovers the ways by which the performance-based practice of bi-musicality complicates the identity of the researcher, as the ability to perform on an instrument tied to notions notations of race-based nationalism transforms the scholar into a curiosity. Through an analysis of my own bimusical practice, I scrutinize the benefits and pitfalls of the constant presence of the foreign researcher in the Korean academic and social milieu.

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