Fine arts professor creates series as resource on music, social justice

Brooke Vincent

Fine arts professor Andrew Dell’Antonio started a new publications series, “Music and Social Justice,” last week as a resource for those interested in the way music impacts and changes society.  

The series will focus on how the sound and lyrics of music addresses social inequalities and how society perceives music. Due to the auditory nature of the series, Dell’Antonio said he hopes to bring in multimedia and interactive publication projects.

“These works may involve video, images, and it really will be a set of contributions from as wide variety of authors and topics on music and justice, but defined broadly,” Dell’Antonio said.

Hip-hop is an example of music’s influence on social justice movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, Dell’Antonio said.

“The African-American community has always found ways to take music and leverage them to make social change, and with Black Lives Matter, they have brought that to the forefront again,” Dell’Antonio said. “There has been this sense that this is necessary.”

The project began after Dell’Antonio met with William Cheng, assistant professor of music at Dartmouth College, at a conference in 2016, when Cheng brought up his idea for the series and invited Dell’Antonio to be a co-editor.

“So many of our collective inquiries, pursuits and passions — musical and otherwise — hinge on social justice and how to make the world a more equitable and livable place,” Cheng said in an email.

Joseph Ovalle, a student of Dell’Antonio for almost seven years now, said those studying this field should stay in tune with current issues facing the individuals who are making music. 

“One of the most difficult things about social justice issues is understanding the fact that you being able to study these things is a privilege,” graduate musicology student Ovalle said. “It means that people have wanted to talk to you and have the resources that would explain all these things.”

Dell’Antonio said without the voices of the people affected, the academic study of the music cannot be as representative as possible of the current issues. The series will not solely rely on the voices of academics, but rather reach out to those who have their “boots on the ground,” or activists, Dell’Antonio said. 

“We are really keen to speak to other people not in our circle,” Dell’Antonio said. “These dialogues are really important. If you talk about people without them, then you’re not doing good work. Nothing about us without us.”