Music Research in the times of COVID-19

Since the pandemic hit, researchers all over the world have been forced to reevaluate their research and publication agendas. There are numerous articles on how to continue or adjust your research plans in light of restricted travel and closures of research facilities, which for the humanities entails mostly archives and libraries. Since guiding students through the end of the Spring semester, serving as the chair of a doctoral committee, and continuing to advise graduate students in musicology and performance at the Frost School of Music, and after having several virtual conversations with colleagues near and far, I realized that it might be useful to collect much of the information that has been circulating in various platforms in one place.

In this post, I share some of the most useful research resources I’ve been consulting while in quarantine. These links are specific to my area of interest, which is music and culture in the Caribbean, particularly Cuba. When possible, I have included open access databases and repositories. I do not intend for this list to be exhaustive, nor do I offer practical advice on how to conduct research online. My objective for this post is to provide a repository of links to helpful resources.

Online Repositories and Databases

“When You Can’t Send Students to the Campus Library” has links to several useful databases and repositories

HathiTrust has millions of digitized items, including full-text sources.

National Emergency Library

Digital Library of the Caribbean has searchable PDFs and images of archival materials originally published in the Caribbean, including periodicals

University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection’s Digital Collection

LILLAS Beson Digital Collections from UT Austin

University of New Mexico, Latin American Collections, Digital Collection

Latin American Open Archives Portal

Princeton University’s Listing of Digital Archives and Resources from Latin American, Spain, and Portugal

Center for Research Libraries Latin American Materials Project (LAMP)

Tulane University’s Latin American Library Digital Collections

University of Pittsburgh’s Latin American Resources Digital Libraries

UC San Diego, List of Primary-Source-Rich Collections of Latin America

Cornell University’s Latin America and the Caribbean: Digital Collections

Library Latin American & Caribbean Resources at Yale Library: Digital Archives

Florida State University, Digital Libraries and Special Collections, Latin American Studies

Florida International University, Latin American & Caribbean Study Guide Digital Collection

UT’s Latin American Network Information Center

University of Maryland’s Latin American Studies Online Resources Guide

Ethnographic Research

For many musicologists and ethnomusicologists, in person ethnographic fieldwork seems now impossible, and many have shifted their methods and sites of research to virtual platforms. In this regard, members of the Society for Ethnomusicology shared relevant sources through the Society’s discussion email list in the initial weeks of the pandemic. I compile the list of suggestions below:

Cooley, Timothy J. et al. (2008): “Virtual Fieldwork. Three Case Studies.” In: Gregory F. Barz und Timothy J. Cooley (eds.): Shadows in the Field. New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology, 90–107

Wood, Abigail. 2008. “E-Fieldwork: A Paradigm for the 21st century?” The New (Ethno)musicologies, edited by Henry Stobart. Scarecrow press, 170-187

SEM StudentNews, special issue on Digital Ethno Musicologies and Online Bodies: Education and Social Media. Student Concerns Committee of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Volume 6 spring/summer 2013.

Kate Alexander, “Virtually Real: Reconstructing and Remembering the 1970s LA Punk Scene Online” (Kathryn Alexander, 2011, UC Riverside)

Hybrid Ethnography: Online, Offline, and In Between will be published by SAGE shortly

Wendy F. Hsu “Digital Ethnography Toward Augmented Empiricism: A New Methodological Framework,” Journal of Digital Humanities vol. 3, no. 2014 (Spring 2014)

Deborah Lupton’s recent webinar slides are also available on her blog. Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic [this one is a particularly thorough guide for researchers in the social sciences, I highly recommend it]

Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practice, ed. Sarah Pink et. al. (2016)

The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, ed. Larissa Hjorth et. al. (2016)

Monique Ingalls, Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community

Daughtry, J. Martin, “Russia’s New Anthem and the Negotiation of National Identity” Ethnomusicology 47, No. 1 (Winter, 2003): 42-67

Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method by Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce, and T.L. Taylor

Theory and Method in Historical Ethnomusicology (edited by Jonathan McCollum and David G. Herbert)

Kiri Miller’s Playable Bodies (2017) and Playing Along (2012) 

Trevor Harvey’s article “Virtual Worlds: An Ethnomusicological Perspective” in the Oxford Handbook of Virtuality

Suk-Young Kim’s K-Pop Live

Katherine Meizel’s Idolized


Christopher Hale, “Are Western Christian Bhajans “Reverse” Mission Music?” in The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities (edited by Suzel Ana Reily and Jonathan M. Dueck)

Jungwon Kim, “K- Popping: Korean Women, K-Pop, and Fandom,” UC Riverside

US National Institutes of Health guidance on how to modify existing studies

There are also technical considerations when conducting ethnographic fieldwork virtually. There are several applications and software programs that allow ethnographers to record phones calls and video calls. Selecting an app will depend on your hardware and the OS that runs it. A quick online search should generate listicles that review the various apps that are currently available. [Edit/Update]: Just today, the Library of Congress’s Blog, Folklife Today, published a relevant post “Remote Fieldwork: tech considerations.” The Blog also has several recently published articles on conducting fieldwork remotely.

I hope you find some of the resources listed here helpful. If you would like to add resources to this growing list, please do not hesitate to send your suggestions via the comments function. Good luck in all your research and publication endeavors!

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