"Negotiating the (non)negotiable"?: on informed consent and ethics in medical ethnomusicology"

  • Andreja Vrekalić J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek


Medical ethnomusicology is a subfield of ethnomusicology and the Society for Ethnomusicology's special interest group represented throughout research of different cultural contexts wherein music is perceived as a therapeutic and/or healing medium. This specific and new area of music scholarship is, in one segment particularly, reflecting the concepts of music therapy discipline thus determining clinical/medical environment as a potential fieldwork site. Taking into the consideration the fact of crossing in between ethnomusicology and music therapy - two similar, but also dissimilar studies of music – it is necessary to respect the scientific status and research standards of music therapy for this medical ethnomusicology research. For a medical ethnomusicologist with an interest in the clinical/medical music therapy context, accordingly, entering the field requires a high level of ethical stance and responsibility. Consequently, a prerequisite and modus operandi of such an ethnographic research project and its possible (un)expected new directions is approval of the institutional ethics committee on the one hand, and the collecting of written informed consent forms for participants on the other. This paper focuses on my current doctoral research of music therapy in a psychiatric context in Croatia with an emphasis on the process(es) of situating and opening up the field through incessantly negotiating (the (non)negotiable?) with the institution/clinic where the research is being conducted.