Dr. Morag Josephine Grant

Curriculum Vitae

Born in 1972 in Lanarkshire, Scotland, Morag Josephine Grant studied music and musicology in Glasgow, London and Berlin. She received her doctorate from King’s College London in 1999, for a dissertation on European serial music in the 1950s. In 2005 she was awarded a DFG stipend to pursue research on the cultural history of the Scots song “Auld Lang Syne”. From 2008-2014 she was junior professor of social musicology at the University of Göttingen and leader of the research group “Music, Conflict and the State”, which explored the use of music to promote, facilitate and accompany violent responses to conflict. Dr. Grant has previously taught at the Humboldt-Universität and at the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin. From November 2014 to September 2015, she was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.

Research Areas

  • Sociology and historical anthropology of music
  • Music and violence, particularly in war, in genocide, and in the context of torture
  • Theory and aesthetics of new and experimental music
  • Social functions of songs and singing
  • Music and human rights
  • Music in Scotland

Research Project

Music, Conflict and Human Rights

The links between musical activities and practices, and traditional, ancient and modern systems of law and justice, are significant, multi-faceted, and widespread. As a social musicologist I am interested in the ways in which musical activities and practices, far from being mere modes of entertainment or forms of performative and expressive art, are integral to the way people live and organise their personal and institutional lives. I am particularly drawn to those connections between music and law where music is implicated in what, in modern terms, constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

During the fellowship, I will be working primarily on two key areas. The first concerns musical activities and practices as a factor in the advocacy of hatred and discrimination, in propaganda for war, and in incitement to genocide, and legal and other responses to such uses of music. As well as developments in national and international law and associated areas since the Second World War, I will also look at earlier examples of music’s use as a tool of political communication, and restrictions imposed on this form of communication. The second key area is a continuation of my work on the relationship between music and punishment, especially in the case of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In particular, I will conduct further comparative research into military justice and the laws of war as these relate to musical practices and symbolism. This research will form a central part of a planned monograph on the social musicology of war.

Publications (selected)

  • Auld Lang Syne: A Song and its Culture, monograph, forthcoming.
  • “Music and Human Rights”, in: The Sage Handbook of Human Rights, vol. 1 (Ed. by Anja Mihr & Mark Gibney), London et al: SAGE Publication 2014, pp. 499-514.
  • “Pathways to Music Torture”, in: Transpositions: Musique et sciences sociales 4 (2014), http://transposition.revues.org/494.
  • The Soundtrack of Conflict: The Role of Music in Radio Broadcasting in Wartime and in Conflict Situations (Ed. along with Férdia J. Stone-Davis), Hildesheim: Olms 2013.
  • Torture: Journal of Torture Rehabilitation and Prevention of Torture 23/2 (2013), thematic issue on Music in Detention (Guest ed. along with Anna Papaeti).
  • The world of music (new series) 2/1 (June 2013), thematic issue on Music and Torture / Music and Punishment (Guest ed. along with Anna Papaeti).
  • Serial Music, Serial Aesthetics: Compositional Theory in Post-war Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001; paperback edition 2005.