The University of Newcastle, Australia

UON endangered music researcher awarded Endeavour Fellowship

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Dr Catherine Grant, a researcher in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Newcastle (UON), has been awarded an Endeavour Fellowship to continue her work on endangered musical traditions in Cambodia.

The fellowship was announced by The Minister for Education, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, on 4 November, who said, "The Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are internationally competitive and promote knowledge, education links and enduring ties between Australia and its neighbours."

Dr Grant will be hosted by Cambodian Living Arts, a not-for-profit organisation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for six months during 2015.

She plans to use her knowledge of intangible cultural heritage, which was presented in her first book Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help (Oxford University Press, 2014) to improve the lives of disadvantaged peoples.

Her project aims to develop current understandings of the connection between intangible cultural heritage (specifically music) and poverty alleviation in contemporary Cambodia and beyond.

Catherine Grant in Cambodia 

"Since the destructive political and socioeconomic circumstances in Cambodia in the 1970s and 1980s, there have been considerable ongoing community and governmental efforts to revitalise traditional Cambodian music. These initiatives have potential to alleviate poverty, as well as holding other social and cultural benefits," said Dr Grant.

"Through a case study approach, the project will determine the extent to which cultural, specifically music, revitalisation initiatives may generate income and employment; broaden career capacities and opportunities, particularly of youth and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups; and provide tools to individuals and communities to fight against poverty, for example, through the development of transferrable skills, or by stimulating entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation."

The outcomes of the project will help inform local cultural policies and initiatives, as well as strategies of communities, governments, and the non-profit sector to reduce poverty, stimulate economic growth, and drive human and social development in developing countries.

Dr Grant also believes the project findings may hold particular relevance for Australian Indigenous communities, where social and economic disadvantage is significant, and cultural preservation urgent – with an estimated 98 per cent of musical traditions already lost.

Dr Catherine Grant in Cambodia with music students 

"This project reflects my respect for and love of cultural diversity; my firm belief that access to and participation in culture is a human right; and my understanding that culture enhances the opportunities available to all human beings," said Dr Grant. "It also reflects my understanding that investment in cultural sustainability initiatives may bring powerful cultural, social and economic benefits, locally and globally."

Dr Grant also recently received a national 2014 Future Justice Prize. This is awarded to Australian individuals or organisations for leadership and initiative in the advancement of future justice, which is concerned with what those living today leave behind for future generations.

  • Catherine Grant
  • Phone: 02 4921 5838

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