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  • Writer's pictureKevin Shorner-Johnson

Season 3 - Silk Roads of Peace

Eleven years ago, I decided that I would divide my semester-long course on “world musics” into two parts, the first half focusing on African diasporas and the second half exploring the Silk Road. With each successive educational journey along the Silk Road, I have learned more and been continuously astounded by the cultural exchange that happens when human beings “bump into one another.”

I find that amidst darker stories of conquest and domination, there are many, many beautiful stories of compassion, depth, and connection to be told along the Silk Road. One story is a religious story, as humans sought to ask profound questions about why suffering exists and how we might transcend or end suffering. Another story is a sonic story of relationship through sound, whether this is explored in Balinese gamelan, bhajans of India, or adhans within Islamic traditions. And yet another, is about how text and oral tradition intersect and converse, building foundational stories of identity, longing, belonging, dharma, and relations. These stories are rich for peace studies because they are universal and yet profoundly individual and contextual in rich diversity.

In this third

season of the music and peacebuilding podcast, we will begin with an interview with Sandeep Das of the Silk Road Ensemble. This interview with Sandeep explores the joy of music and the passion to make a more meaningful difference in the world through music. Our exploration of his album and associated Hindu epics, sheds light on questions on balance, longing, belonging, cyclical time, and beauty in diversity.

Another podcast in this season, explores the music of Tuva with ethnomusicologist Dr. Theodore Levin. I remember when I first read Dr. Levin’s book on Tuvan music that I was inspired by connections between singing and the natural world. There is something to be learned from musicians who enter such a deep relationship with the natural world that they choose to sit with, listen, and imitate the sound of the babbling brook. What lessons might this sense of being hold as we attempt to reclaim ecological relations in a time of climate change?

And finally, other episodes will explore Balinese Gamelan, refugee choirs, medical ethnomusicology, and many other stops along the Silk Road. I believe that this journey is one that might illumine a deeper understanding of who we are and imagine peacebuilding acts of restoration and repair that are informed by the beauty of our diversity. I look forward to taking this journey with you in thoughtful journeys that seek to reclaim space for connection and care.

Join us in January 2022 for Season 3 of Music & Peacebuilding.

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