Professor Morris to study Chilean protest music through Fulbright award

Professor Nancy Morris, MSP, has received a Fulbright Scholar Award to continue her study of Chilean New Song music, a genre that became the soundtrack to 1960s social movements in the South American country.

“The story of New Song has yet to be told, and there is a need to collect oral histories of key participants before it is too late,” Morris said.

She will spend the fall semester in Chile (where she will also teach at the University of Chile) and then return to Philadelphia in the spring to write up her research.

“The musicians’ claims that they were combating cultural imperialism piqued my interest and led ultimately to my academic specialization in international media,” she said.

Why does music unite?

With 50 years of history to examine, Morris has decided to focus on the music’s ability to unite people more closely behind a cause.

“The genre reflects and interacts with Chilean political events of the past 40 years,” she says. It has pervaded, “a Marxist presidency, a military coup d’etat and subsequent 18-year dictatorship, the return to democracy and the ongoing massive student protests of the past year.”

This fall, she plans to speak with the musicians, promoters and producers of New Song, including some of the people she interviewed while studying abroad in Chile in 1983.

“I expect these interviews to be fruitful, as these are thoughtful and articulate artists whose vocation is to express their ideas,” she said. “The founders of New Song have been involved with this music for over 40 years, and those younger musicians who allied with this musical current did so with conscious motivations. In all cases, their perspectives have matured, allowing a degree of reflection that simply was not feasible in decades past.”

Watch New Song in action at this 2011 demonstration for greater government support for education.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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