This post is part of a series from IU Press Journals that takes a closer look at the scholarship in the articles and issues of IU Press journals. Posts may respond to articles, provide background, document the development process, or explain why scholars are excited about the journal, theme, or article and will primarily be written by journal editors and contributors.
By Panagiotis A. Kanellopoulos, author of "Problematizing Knowledge–Power Relationships: A Rancièrian Provocation for Music Education" in issue 24.1 of Philosophy of Music Education Review
“Problematizing knowledge–power relationships: A Rancièrian provocation for music education” has been part of an overarching project of music education philosophical research in which I am trying to develop critical perspectives on the question of the political implications of music creative work, as well as on the perennial question of the teacher’s responsibility in the process of pursuing free musical expression with her/his students. A growing concern that I have had for quite some time is that we seem to be missing a convincing theoretical framework within which to situate our practical and everyday improvisational and compositional work with students of all ages and with a variety of backgrounds. What does it mean to say that “we’re open to students’ input”? What does it mean to say that “in this we’re all equal”? How are we to think of the problematics that underpin such assertions? We are also in need of more nuanced theoretical tools that might enable us to critically examine the ways in which music educators approach children as “creative beings,” as well as the socio-political ramifications of our resultant rhetoric and practice. Furthermore, I am looking for a theoretical approach that permits us to remain open to unforeseen possibilities that are the result of intense music experimentation with our students.
In addition, I have been fascinated with the fertile and utterly uncompromising writings of Rancière. (I’ve also had some experiences of how his thinking may outrage music educators and culture industry agents.) This paper was sparked by a most inspirational commentary of Alain Badiou on the work of Rancière in which he asks questions such as: “If it is not the concept but rather practical and actual experiences that form the real sources of emancipation, how does this experience transmit itself?” If, in our wish to develop a down/top approach to music and its making, doing away with oppressive teaching approaches, what is that which emerges? How are we to think of the historical dimension of music and our relationship with it? What is the teacher’s responsibility in this? And “[w]hat is a transmission that is not an imposition?”1
Badiou’s comments on Rancière’s understanding of equality helped me to begin outlining a Rancièrian framework that might enable us to rethink the ways in which various music education philosophical perspectives have defined the relationships between knowledge and power. I then tried to sketch a Rancièrian provocation that stems from trying to think over Badiou’s questions within music education contexts. In the process of writing, I have tried to stay close to a kind of philosophical thinking that I can live with at every moment of my everyday work, helping me think over personal struggles, insecurities, and concerns − hence the use of particular vignettes. Whether all this is useful to other people’s thinking, I cannot know.
1Alain Badiou, “Jacques Rancière’s Lessons: Knowledge and Power after the Storm,” in The Adventures of French Philosophy, Bruno Bosteels, ed., trans. Tzuchien Tho (London: Verso, 2012), 101-130, 105.
Read Panagiotis A. Kanellopoulos’s essay “Problematizing Knowledge–Power Relationships: A Rancièrian Provocation for Music Education” in issue 24.1 of Philosophy of Music Education Review, which is available now on JSTOR and Project MUSE.