BFE member Caetano Santos wins 2022 Student Paper Prize

Following the BFE Annual Conference at the Open University in April 2022, 16 papers were submitted for the BFE Student Prize. The committee tasked with reviewing the papers consisted of Cassandre Balosso-Bardin (University of Lincoln), Andrew Green (University of Warsaw) and Keith Howard (SOAS, University of London). Such a committee always faces a formidable challenge in having to identify the most insightful and significant contribution, and we found all 16 papers interesting and engaging to read. Indeed, all 16 expanded our discipline, although in multiple and diverse ways. Some closely addressed conference themes, some reported on recent fieldwork – including approaches that were ground-breaking – some were more theoretical, and some offered deep dives into specific music cultures. Overall, then, the 16 papers gave the committee the chance to explore the directions that emerging scholars are taking, and how each points to the future of ethnomusicology.

The BFE Student Prize 2022 is awarded to Caetano Maschio Santos (University of Oxford), for his superb paper, “Damn Corona: the (necro)political aesthetics of migration and the Haitian exodus from Brazil during the Covid-19 pandemic.” As much of the world sees a rise in xenophobia and racial/ethnic prejudice, and as reflections begin on how people and politicians responded to the global crisis, Santos’s powerful paper is timely, insightful, and impactful. He takes a deep dive into the Haitian community and its musicians in Brazil, tracing the community’s subaltern status, but listening to their viral songs. Richly detailed and sharply written, it references a considerable and diverse literature to set up each of its parts. Songs invert silence and sound – silence marking fear of the unknown and the cross-cultural intensity of presence and effect, but sound demonstrating both recognition and engagement.

An Honourable Mention is made to Rowan Hawitt (University of Edinburgh), for her thoughtful and insightful paper, “Walking as a more-than-human methodology for ethnomusicologists.” Rowan’s evocative and engaging paper is well-crafted, and, framed by recent scholarship, explores the relationships between music, place, and the environment. At its core are two contrasting vignettes that explore critical participation in the relationships people have with the world around them, each featuring a walk with a singer. The first evokes deep time through geology while the other observes birds and poses questions about mass extinction. As she walks with singers, Rowan critiques her own privilege, pointing out that while her fieldwork offers a step forward for ethnomusicology, the project still involves issues of inequality.