"Jorginho Guajajara, a cacique, or leader, of the Guajajara people, was found dead near a river in the city of Arame, Maranhão state, at the weekend. Members of the tribe say his death was the result of a fierce conflict provoked by the incursion of loggers into their land. Up to 80 Guajajaras have been killed in the area since 2000."
I wish I could say this type of story was rare. When I point out in my book that ecological issues ARE social justice issues, this week's story in the Guardian is the type of heart wrenching issue I mean. The word, issue, doesn't even begin to capture the horror of our current system of globalism. Music teachers who are even a little interested in social justice issues must not continue to ignore the ecological nature of the problem.
Here are some of the main points in the Guardian news story:
- Guajajara’s body was dumped by a stream where previous killings connected to the logging corporations have been dumped.
- Guajajara’s group, “Guardians of Amazon,” take direction to reduce illegal logging in the Araeibóia reserve.
- There is an uncontacted tribe, the Awá, who live in the territory where illegal logging is currently being imposed.
- Sônia Guajajara (a politician and activist) writes, “This was not an isolated case, but part of an ongoing genocide.”
- In the area in question, 70% of the biome has already been destroyed by the logging industry.
- Maranhão, Brazil has been the location for extended conflicts with indigenous people for a long time. “Many leaders are being threatened by these invaders and we urgently need to end this situation; we do not want to lose any more relatives who fight and protect our Mother Earth.”
As for eco-literate music teachers, the first point of order is that you are not an ecologically literate citizen if you do not know this is happening (sorry for all of the negatives in that sentence, but this is how I want to word this). Eco-literacy is not a globalized music education that is on the side of global corporations and global governmental structures that are impotent to defend local commons because they don't fall within the global capitalist structure. We need to promote a common music education, that is, one that is actively commoning (to borrow a word from Gustavo Esteva) places and culture.
In Eco-Literate Music Pedagogy (pp. 29-32), I use authors such as Chet Bowers, Gustavo Esteva, and Madhu Prakash to begin to discuss the commons in music education. And since I wrote that section (and before publication), Vincent Bates published important ideas about the commons in music education in his sociology of music curriculum integration. Bates uses the ideas of American philosopher Wendell Berry (was it Richard Rorty who called Berry the most important philosopher in the non-academy sense? I call him a philosopher in the same way; his philosophy was honed in a place, on his farm in Kentucky, working actual soil, not just theory). According to Bates, land-grabbers (commons enclosers) use privitization, displacement, standardization, stratification, and degradation.
This enclosing of the commons can be seen extensively in music education, it was part of the founding of the field Ethnomusicology, when mostly-White university folk went to often-Brown, always-poor, often-female living cultures and dissected the musics from the cultus, for analysis and aesthetic appreciation in sterile Ivory Tower classrooms. Commoning begins by not participating in privitization, displacement, standardization, stratification, and degradation. To resist these global music education impulses means to participate in what I call a philosophy of music education on soil. I get this idea of Ivan Illich, "a clear, disciplined analysis of that experience and memory of soil without which neither virtue nor some new kind of substance can be."
In this philosophy on soil, soil is not only a real thing, an actual placed pedagogy on dirt (what I call dirty work in the book), but also a metaphor for rooted cultures. These rooted cultures can never be alive in universities or other institutions of the global marketplace. There's no paradox in this. Uprooted people cannot sustain roots. Music educators need to root themselves (reroot after the uprooting experience of the institutionalization of university education) in actual communities, humbly, like beings living in the soil. That's a start, but maybe not enough to resist in a world where global interests will kill those who want to conserve their local ways of being. I leave with this question that I have tried to find an answer for, but for which I would love to hear other solutions.
How can music educators build soil, rather than causing more soil erosion?