Jocelyne Guilbault

Music

Professor Jocelyne Guilbault is an ethnomusicologist and popular music studies scholar teaching at Berkeley since 1999. From 1984 to 1998 she taught at the University of Ottawa. Her educational background includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Université de Montréal in my native Quebec, Canada, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Stressing a multidisciplinary approach, Guilbault’s research and teaching engages critical theoretical and methodological issues in ethnomusicology and popular music studies. She locates these issues in the scholarly intersections of music, anthropology, cultural studies, and history.

All of her intellectual projects since 1980 have been deeply informed by the distinctive history of the West Indies, where colonial legacies of slavery and of racism have loomed large in all arenas of musical discourse and practice. This has compelled her to focus on diasporic formations, on emergent national identities, and on the politics of representation. And it has compelled her to investigate the postcolonial conditions in which West Indian musicians live and the systemic inequalities they have faced. But her research is not just about oppression, or emancipatory politics, or the status quo. By focusing on creative agency in its multiple forms, Guilbault has examined a multitude of ways that musicians, their audiences, and music industry workers confront, enact, deploy, and resist power in its many forms and effects. In this way she has consistently engaged with the politics of aesthetics and with power relations in music production and circulation.

These issues inform her earliest fieldwork project on the politics of traditionality and modernity in St. Lucian village music. She developed these issues on a more global scale in a later project on Zouk as a Caribbean “world music.” Her last two books draw from a long history of research in Trinidad. In one she explored the ways the calypso music scene became audibly entangled with projects of governing, audience demands, and market incentives. In the most recent publication, an experiment in dialogic co-authorship with a reputed Trinidadian calypso and soca band leader, she engages the audible entanglements of circulation, reputation, and sound. New articles on music and militarization and on theorizing work ethics will appear in 2017 in an edited volume on Caribbean military encounters, and in Popular Music. Her current book project is titled The Political Economy of Music and Sound: Case Studies from the Caribbean Tourism Industry, co-edited with Timothy Rommen.