Music of Minorities

Research projects like "Music of the Roma in Austria" (1990-1995), or Music of Bosnians in Vienna (1995-); as well as "Immigrant-Music Cultures in Vienna (2005-) have been carried out as part of the minority research area established at the Institute in 1990. The results, from research projects as well as symposium are made public in numerous publications (books and recordings). One of these projects was the creation of a Yoruba children's book, an idea suggested by Babatola Aloba.


Ursula Hemetek, Eva Steinhauser und Babátóla Alóba

Dr. Ursula Hemetek, Eva Steinhauser and Babátóla Alóba (left to right) in conversation about the Yorùbá Children's Book, 1999.
Photo: Lisl Waltner


The focus upon minorities also informs the teaching and is met with great interest among the students. Ever more, thesis and dissertation themes on different minorities are being undertaken, such as "Music of the Greeks in Vienna," "Music of the Armenians in Vienna," "Roma Music", Burgenland Croats, Carinthian Slovenians, to name a few. It is a given that all work with the minority research area, close collaboration with members of the groups themselves will be sought.


The sociopolitical dimensions of such a theme are taken very seriously. The work fosters a dialogue among varied cultures, namely majority and minority cultures in Austria. It works to dissolve prejudice through the communication of information. It works in the fight against xenophobia through existing cultural means. Accordingly, work within public space is an important aspect and many presentations of minority culture have already been carried out, often in collaboration with Initiative Minderheiten or with minority organizations, like "Roma-Myth and Reality" 1994 in Vienna. Furthermore, the task of passing on scholarly results of projects to the larger society is taken seriously and pursued both through pedagogical or cultural means, such as through advisory and consulting roles on different projects (i.e. Andre Heller's "Magneten" 1993, or the musical "coming home" by Christian Kolonovits, 2004).

International networking about the subject of minorities has been very successful and has led to the formation of a study group within the world organization of ethnomusicology, the International Council for Traditional Music, in 1997. The study group "Music and Minorities" is lead by Ursula Hemetek and has over 200 members from every continent. The committee meets every other year and is organized by participants from around the world.

Associate Professor Ursula Hemetek, who established this area and who in 2001 habilitated on this theme in ethnomusicology at the University of Vienna, has been directing this research program since 1990.


Bosnische MusikantInnen

Bosnian Musicians, 1996
Photo: Herman Hemetek


When dealing with minority cultures, one is often concerned with threatened cultures (Roma, Bosnian...), for whom scholarly work is not only important, but urgent. With the scholarly attention a culture can counter the resignation, dying off and giving up with new creative resistance.

The collection of AV-media from field research since the 1990s among minorities in Austria constitute a valuable source for research as well as for the communities themselves. The digitalization of the recordings is an ongoing process in Archivis pro.