The Music and Minorities Research Center


The Music and Minorities Research Center (MMRC) was founded and is led by Ursula Hemetek, who was awarded the Wittgenstein Award – also known as the "Austrian Nobel Prize for Science" – by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) in 2018. The goal of the MMRC is to continue the ethnomusicological minority research which has been developed by Ursula Hemetek, and to create a structural basis for it at mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The intention is to sustainably establish this field of research with an emphasis on its socio-political application.

The MMRC is a separate organizational unit within mdw. The first five years, between 2019 and 2024, can be financed by the funding provided by FWF through the Wittgenstein Award.

We consider it necessary for academia to assume socio-political responsibility. In order to fulfil this assignment, the involvement of civil society in our activities is just as important to us as cooperation with other research institutions, also beyond the boundaries of ethnomusicology. Through regular public events we intend to establish and maintain a dialogue with a broader public. Therefore, we aim for cooperation in research networks as well as with NGOs and organizations in the social and cultural sector.


Ursula Hemetek sitting at her desk

Mission Statement

Ethnomusicological Research Assuming Socio-Political Responsibility


"After 40 years of researching music and minorities, I believe more than ever that music is powerful: it can serve identification as well as representation, it can be instrumentalized and thus it is an essential socio-political factor.

Minorities – meaning social groups of lesser power in relation to a dominant group – face different forms of discrimination. These can be addressed in different ways, often involving music and the arts. Ethnomusicology provides the appropriate tools for conducting research on these phenomena, because ethnomusicology deals with musics in their social contexts. Additionally, engaged ethnomusicology, in cooperation with NGOs and political actors, can find ways to apply the research outcomes.

With the MMRC, I am founding a research center that is dedicated to developing and deepening systematic research on musical practices in connection with minorities locally and globally. The MMRC strives for sustainability by giving early career researchers the opportunity to develop new approaches in exchange with more senior colleagues. We want to refine the theories and methods of this field of research in order to influence international ethnomusicology as well as social and political realities."

Ursula Hemetek