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FLAS Ethnomusicology awardee spends the summer in Montréal

johnson montreal
Hilary at vieux-port in Montréal.

October 31, 2012

This summer I was enrolled in six weeks of intensive French courses at POINT3 Language Center in the Old Port of Montréal. During my stay, I shared a classroom and developed friendships with people from all around the world. In addition to morning lessons devoted to advanced grammatical concepts, enhancing our vocabularies and fluency, afternoons were spent debating polemics, or candidly speaking about our personal lives and worldviews. Workshops on the local Québécois dialect—infused with lessons on their rich cultural history—were particularly valuable. The concept of language as culture, indivisible from national identity and place, was made evident to me on a daily basis in the streets of Montréal and the rural regions of Québec.

With a greater ability to communicate in French, as well as my activity as a musician, I was provided a cultural access point—the medium through which I’ve developed personal relationships with Canadians of distinct and varying cultural identities. My interest in the use of music and French language to project images of the “Québécois nation” only grew when I was able to examine how contemporary genres in Québec also represent “nations within a nation within a nation”– including the Métis and Acadian peoples. In addition to living with Montréaler musicians and attending concerts and jam sessions, I participated in a government-sponsored musical tour of Québec. Witnessing Canadian models of hybridity, identity formation, and cultural resistance in musical performance, I was able to pursue my research agenda: blending musical analysis and a study of state interventionist policies in cultural domains. Through FLAS and the support of the Canadian Studies Center, I was able to explore critical themes within my own research as well as in the field of Ethnomusicology.

Funding for FLAS Fellowships is provided by a Center allocation from International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education. Visit our FLAS page: