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Musical Encounters

New research at UMIH highlights ways of understanding music

January 25, 2017 — 

If anyone walked through the fourth floor of the Tier building on Thursday, January 19, they may have heard the sound of singing coming from the boardroom. If you heard it, you weren’t hallucinating; it was part of a presentation by SSHRC post-doctoral fellow Jessica Herdman. A historical musicologist, Herdman’s research centers on music-making in early colonial encounter in New France.

Jessica Herdman, SSHRC Post-docotral Fellow

Jessica Herdman, SSHRC Post-docotral Fellow

Herdman’s presentation highlighted the importance of musicking to both Jesuit and Indigenous ways of being, exploring the complex connections between the songs that were used by the Jesuits in their attempts at conversion, and Indigenous songs for healing. She went on to point out the challenges involved in pursuing such work in cultural history, given that songs are largely ephemeral and may not have survived for our consumption several hundred years later. In this research program, Herdman foregrounds how music-making had a critical role in colonial expansion – as both a space of creative misunderstanding and of intense cultural collision.

Herdman’s program of research is supported by the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities (UMIH) as part of its research affiliates program. This presentation forms part of the UMIH new research colloquium series, which showcases the important research going on at the institute. For more information on forthcoming events at the institute, visit their website at

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