Discussions about Ethics in "Creative Misunderstandings"
During the first year, a lot of concerns and questions about research ethics were in focus of this project. All members are sharing the position of an anti-colonial approach and equal exchanges in knowledge production. Nevertheless the financial support and institutional structure of this artistic research project are to a certain extent predefined in the frame of “Western” academic research. How is it possible to realize such a project in an anti-colonial manner? A controversy among the group arose, in which the main question was: how would the Tao benefit from this project?
Although this project aims not to exploit Tao culture, how far is it possible to avoid the historically assigned roles?
How can I be involved?
In the process of finding a personal subproject Sandeep Bhagwati reflected on his own role as researcher and summarized some of his concerns. Among his key points were (26.4.2019):
a) I do not sense any way to get a deeper insight into the infrastructures and structures of Tao music without serious ethnomusicological research.
b) I have always engaged with people who were professional musicians. There would be no equality of intent and purpose, and – more importantly - there would be no agreement on why we are doing this.
c) I have no clue as to what I could do within this project that would not be a blatant colonialist move.
He also questioned the power imbalance in the project pointing out:
that we, with our substantial funding, would profit much more from any such encounter compared to the Tao: we would have our resonance space in Europe, where we can translate our experiences to audiences, concert organizers, academic readers. Everything we do "there" can thus be amplified to further our careers and status ‘here’.
Some contrasting opinions came from other group members:
If we do nothing the Tao culture will disappear because other influences (like the Pop industry) are too strong and the generation gap is already very wide. We can contribute to a strengthening of the Tao community by connecting their past and future. (Johannes Kretz, 31.5.2019)
In the given context we can either abolish anthropology or accept the inherent colonialism and since a lot of good can come out of this project we decide to work with it and do the best within the framework. (Bernd Brabec de Mori, 26.3.2019)
We are all in „in-between states“ in one-way or the other. We live in an ecosystem with many levels of power, we are the powerful group in this context, but in other contexts we are the powerless. We all carry the colonized country and colonizing country inside us.
(Wei-Ya Lin on 31.5.2019)
It is part of the project to ask these questions. It is about how we act, how we ask questions and how we deal with these questions. (Wei-Ya Lin on 26.3.2019)
After the first research phase in Vienna 24 Tao expressed their wish to come to Europe to act as mediators for their culture. They would like to do concerts, performances or show documentaries at different institutions. This can be seen as a first positive outcome towards an empowerment of the Tao community. (Daliah Hindler on 15.11.2019)
What is music?
The discussion about the role of the researchers and the academic field vs. the reality of the Tao opened up a space for questioning and challenging the definition of the terms like Music and Composition. In opening up to different forms of perceiving the world, it is necessary to broaden definitions and to question so-called academic perspectives constantly. In addition, artistic researchers challenge and question the term Knowledge. In Artistic Research one can understand knowledge production as a process, in which tacit knowledge e.g. is as valuable as explicit knowledge.
Drawing from these discussions, we observe a constant reflection of our own roles and concepts. This seems to continue as ongoing discussions among the project team-members. Since we did not explicitly specify the outcomes of the project, we will have to ask ourselves permanently: how can we ensure the sustainability in this project, especially in accordance with the Tao values, Tao ethics, Tao research and all our cooperation partners.
We will keep you posted.