Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Denver
Period of residence: 
10 September 2018 - 12 July 2019 ; EURIAS Fellowship
Research project: 
Cultural Policy and World Music in France: Negotiating Difference and Nationhood
Summary of the research project: 

Since the mid-20th century, les musiques du monde (world musics)1 have flourished in France, enjoying significant government support and enthusiastic fans. At the same time, as growing numbers of immigrants have settled in France, the nation has struggled to embrace diverse peoples who are often marginalized geographically (in particular neighborhoods) and politically (e.g., laws about dress). National and local governments have had to rethink how to promote values fundamental to the French nation, such as equality and laïcité (secularism), in increasingly diverse cultural contexts. In this project, I tease out this tension by examining how and why state funders and audiences have embraced world musics, while increasingly charged (and often racialized) rhetoric concerning immigrants, cultural diversity, and integration grows louder. This ethnographic project will draw on the fields of cultural policy, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and ethnomusicology to examine: (1) how and why funding organizations support world musics; (2) how this support impacts music projects; and (3) how ideas about nationhood, diversity, and multiculturalism circulate through these projects. French government bodies have long justified state support of French popular and classical musics by arguing that these musics contribute to core democratic and egalitarian national values. Discourses surrounding state support for world musics, however, remain unexamined. In preliminary research, I found that government actors justify support for world musics by combining existing ideas about Western musics’ value in French society with emerging ideas about the dynamic (and increasingly diverse) musics, cultures, and politics in contemporary France. This project will explore how funding bodies, musicians, industry professionals, and audiences develop and experience world music projects as they bring together existing discourses about music’s place in France with new ideas about cultural diversity, French culture, and world musics in an increasingly diverse nation. By examining how artistic creation, politics, and culture intersect through multiple disciplinary lenses, I hope to develop a view of cultural policy that will be of broader use to music and policy professionals in culturally diverse contexts.

1 These terms are contested. They are both used to refer to marketing labels and genre categories, but many disagree about their meaning and utility, and, in the French context, many distinguish between the Anglophone and Francophone terms. These are issues that I will discuss at length in my project. In this proposal, however, I use the term “world musics” to refer to traditional and popular musics of non-French—primarily African, American, and Asian--origin in France.

Lien(s) web: 


BIO: Aleysia K. Whitmore is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and the Faculty Affiliate for The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. Her research focuses on the world music industry, globalization, and cultural policy. Her forthcoming book, World Music and the Black Atlantic (Oxford University Press 2020), analyzes how musicians, industry actors, and audiences create, promote, and consume West African and Cuban musics in the world music industry. Her current book project,Sounds of a Porte Ouverte, examines how cultural policies engage with cultural diversity in southeastern France. She has taught popular music, world music, and classical music courses at Brown University, Boston College, the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado Denver. She holds a BMus from the University of Toronto and AM and PhD degrees in ethnomusicology from Brown University.

Curriculum Vitae: