Conference: Race and Empire in Global Music History, 1500-1800

Race and Empire in Global Music History, 1500-1800 is a research conferenced organized by Professors Olivia Bloechl (Music) and Molly Warsh (History). The conference will take place on March 30-31 at Pitt’s Humanities Center.

The conference will explore important questions about how race and colonial projects influenced musical life around the world in the early modern era. How did sound, song, and the sense people made of it affect their relationships to people, places, and powers, both near and far away? Just as importantly, what do we do with these pasts and their legacies today, as music scholars and historians, community knowledge-keepers, artists, and teachers? This conference brings together an international group of scholars and scholar-artists whose work converges on these and related questions. Its paper sessions showcase connected music histories of the Americas, the Caribbean, East Asia, Europe, and spaces between, offering real geocultural breadth while also aiming to collectively develop more integrative knowledge through formal responses and discussions.

To that end, each day centers on a keynote event addressing major problems and processes pertaining to the conference theme. On the first day, the distinguished historian and librettist Edda Fields-Black (Carnegie Mellon University) will present a keynote on “Casop: A Requiem for Rice,” a new requiem that Prof. Fields-Black has co-created as “a lamentation for the repose of the souls of the dead who were enslaved, exploited, and brutalized” on Southern U.S. rice plantations ( The second day includes a roundtable exploring Walter Mignolo’s concept of “coloniality/modernity” as a framework for music history, featuring Prof. Mignolo (Duke University) as an honorary respondent. 

All are welcome, but reservations are requested as space is limited. RSVP to or

For a complete schedule, abstracts, and biographies of the presenters visit