In what might be a growing “grassroots” movement (in the sense that it may be individually rather than corporately organized), there seems to be some interest among academics in protesting the high costs of journal publishers through boycotting Elsevier. An early call came from Timothy Gowers. This was mentioned by Michael Nielsen, who gives some more context:

Elsevier is the world’s largest and most profitable scientific publisher, making a profit of 1.1 billion dollars on revenue of 3.2 billion dollars in 2009. Elsevier have also been involved in many dubious practices, including the publishing of fake medical journals sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, and the publication of what are most kindly described as extraordinarily shoddy journals. Until 2009, parent company Reed Elsevier helped facilitate the international arms trade.

Much earlier than this was Robert Darnton’s “The Library: Three Jeremiads,” which points out a “vicious circle” of the rising cost of academic journals:

the escalation in the price of periodicals forces libraries to cut back on their purchase of monographs; the drop in the demand for monographs makes university presses reduce their publication of them; and the difficulty in getting them published creates barriers to careers among graduate students.

The Elsevier boycott thread was recently picked up on Crooked Timber, as well as in a Chronicle piece by Gowers.

Here’s the most recent development at University of Michigan, where the library reports

A boycott launched on January 21st has (as of February 2nd) obtained a commitment by 11 members of the U-M community and 3044 people in total to refuse to publish, referee, or do editorial work for Elsevier journals “unless they radically change how they operate.” (Read more)

Go Blue!


Moravian Sound Terrains

I wanted to offer open (online) access to some of my research. This hasn’t caught on so much in ethnomusicology, but it’s been standard in other academic disciplines since the birth of the Web (the SPIRES-HEP database of physics papers at SLAC, for instance). Peer-reviewed publishing and scholarship is great, and it’s highly important, but it takes time. It’s often difficult to get fresh perspectives and brand-new ideas.

Therefore, I thought I’d try a relatively new option, and publish on the Web my recent conference paper from the Society for Ethnomusicology’s annual meeting. The presentation was on November 11 (2010) in Los Angeles. If you’re interested in reading it after skimming the abstract, follow the links to the full paper below.

The essay is titled “Sound Terrains: ‘Soundscape,’ Place and Nature in South Moravia.” Here’s the abstract from the conference program:

Place and ecology loom large in the conception of traditional music in slovácko, a region of Moravia (Czech Republic) known for its natural beauty, vibrant folk festivals, and viniculture. The region’s gently undulating landscape forms an ecosystem suited to the cultivation of wine grapes, and these have in turn closely entwined musical expressions and wine-related cultural activities. Not only nature, but also music, then, have been closely associated with slovácko’s unique identity, creating a unique connection of sound and ecology. This presentation will explore the link between ecology, soundscape, and music in slovácko through the analysis of recent recordings and ethnographic interviews with Moravian musicians undertaken in 2005 and 2006. This paper will support the ethnomusicological observation that, while soundscape recordings, called “sound terrains” in Czech, may easily appear as etic artifacts collected by ethnomusicologists, each of these sound ecologies has its own trajectories of history and understanding that may be apparent to locals as well as ethnomusicologists and other scholars. To illustrate this argument, I will examine two recent recording projects. These projects reveal dichotomies among contemporary Moravian traditional musicians that fall along lines of professional and amateur, traditional and fusion, and rural and urban; however, considered from the standpoint of a sound ecology, they reveal continuities of thought in traditional music about the intimate connections between place, Moravianness, nationalism, and music that persist within new social and political configurations in the European Union.

To download a pdf version of the complete paper, click http://bit.ly/fP9C0v. (If the link is broken, find it on the publications list of my Webpage.)

If you want to reference, cite, or use the essay, please do. If you’re not sure what scholarly attribution should look like in the internet age, check out the attribution guide from open.michigan. It’s common practice to attribute authors and also share your work with others, so this is distributed under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-ShareAlike unported license.

A unique feature of online access (at least via blog) is that you can let creators know what you’re doing with their stuff. Please let me know what you think or if you use this essay! Any feedback would be appreciated, and you can leave it in the comments.