Music & Social Justice: Race & Ethnic Studies


Gonzalez, Martha. Chican@ Artivistas: Music, Community, and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles. University of Texas Press, 2020.

Gonzalez explores the intersections between music, activism, and social justice through her focus on Chican@ Artivistas in East Los Angeles. Drawing inspiration from the Zapatista movement and Fandango music, Gonzalez demonstrates how music can serve dual functions as a means for political commentary and community building.

Robinson, Dylan. Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies. University of Minnesota Press, 2020.

Hungry Listening is the first book to consider listening from both Indigenous and settler colonial perspectives, presenting case studies on Indigenous participation in classical music, musicals, and popular music. A critical response to what has been called the “whiteness of sound studies,” Dylan Robinson evaluates how decolonial practices of listening emerge from increasing awareness of our listening positionality.

Wong, Deborah. Louder and Faster: Pain, Joy, and the Body Politic in Asian American Taiko. University of California Press. 2019.

A cultural study of the phenomenon of Asian American taiko, the thundering, athletic drumming tradition that originated in Japan. Immersed in the taiko scene for twenty years, Deborah Wong has witnessed cultural and demographic changes and the exponential growth and expansion of taiko, particularly in Southern California. Through her participatory ethnographic work, she reveals a complicated story embedded in memories of Japanese American incarceration and legacies of imperialism, Asian American identity and politics, a desire to be seen and heard, and the intersection of culture and global capitalism.

André, Naomi. Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2018.

Black Opera presents how black performers have been presented in operatic roles as well as how an opera can engage with modern audiences, rather than the audience it was written for.

Denning, Michael. 2015. Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution. New York: Verso Books.

Examining vernacular recordings of phonographic musics and cultures in the 1920s and 30s, Michael Denning reveals the flow of sonic technologies, racialized-sexualized identities/identifications, and decolonial politics across imperial ports, port cities, and steamship routes in the global shipping and transportation industry. In this oceanic circulation of vinyl recording technologies and musics, this book demonstrates how the coloniality of early-twentieth-century soundscapes was challenged by the making of a working-class cultural revolution. This development within musical performance not only enhanced and extended the relationship of musicians and artists to the political struggle for decolonization. Rather, the 1920s musical revolution created a foundation of hybridized sounds and cultures to support and uplift the anti-colonial movements in the decades to come.

Baraka, Amiri. "Blues People: Negro Music in White America." New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1963.

In his foundational book in the field of Jazz Studies and Black Music Studies, Baraka traces the history of Blues from slavery to its identification as "jazz". One of the most well cited theories in this book is found in chapter 10, "Swing-From Verb to Noun" where he asserts that the transition of Black terms like "swing" or "jazz" from action to thing is a result of white America's influence and violence.

Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave." Boston: Yale University, 2003.

A foundational primary source in the field of African American Studies, this book is the first autobiography by one of the most important writers and abolitionists of the 19th century. This book is important to the field of musicology because he theorizes about Black music/spirituals and its importance to the life and survival of enslaved peoples in America.

Davis, Angela Y. "Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday." New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

In Angela Davis' "Blues Legacies and Black Feminism" she examines the work and music of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday through a Black feminist lens. She argues that in order to analyze these works, it is important to include how these works were performed in order to theorize how these women were discussing power, race, sexuality, and gender.

Feldstein, R. (2013). How it feels to be free : black women entertainers and the civil rights movement.

Women artists from multiple genres of music talk about their reasons behind the civil rights and their involvement.

African American Communities 

A diverse range of primary source material focusing on race relations across social, political, cultural and religious arenas.

Michigan Chronicle (1936 - 2010) 

Starting in 1936, this Detroit paper is an excellent source to find primary sources concerning the civil rights movement.

Race Relations in America 

The Amistad Research Center is the focus of this resource featuring primary source material on the Civil Rights Movement, segregation, discrimination and racial theory in America during three pivotal decades of the twentieth century, 1943-1970

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