Decolonizing Music Education: A Closer Look at PME 26.1

This post is part of a series that takes a closer look at the scholarship behind IU Press Journals. Primarily written by journal editors and contributors, posts may respond to articles, provide background, document the development process, or explain why scholars are excited about the journal, theme, or article.

Burke Stanton’s article, “Musicking in the Borders toward Decolonizing Methodologies,” from the Philosophy of Music Education Review’s newest issue, is now available on JSTOR & Project MUSE. Below, Burke elaborates on the ongoing struggle for decolonization and liberation in music education.

The idea for writing “Musicking in the Borders: Toward Decolonizing Methodologies” germinated a little more than two years ago as my undergraduate senior thesis for DePauw University. I reworked that project significantly in the first months after my graduation and sent it to PMER. At that juncture, I left for Mexico in order to continue studying philosophies and histories I had recently discovered.  During my time at University, the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico inspired my own research and journey. Travelling, studying, and collaborating in Chiapas provided the material counterpoint to research I began in the library. After participating in several months of Spanish immersion, I collaborated with two human rights organizations, learning much that the books had omitted.

Then, I received an email from PMER and found myself revisiting the prospect of publishing my article. Fortunately for me, I received illuminating criticism at every turn. Early on, this came from Dr. Elissa Harbert at DePauw who kindly supported and guided a project that was surely even more quixotic at that time. Later, the peer review process challenged and sharpened my thinking greatly. At the time of this writing, I’m beginning a guitar class as a volunteer facilitator at the Chicago-based Centro Autónomo/Mexico Solidarity Network where we will attempt to educate ourselves in part through musicking that navigates histories of resistance. I imagine that the young collaborating students will continue this trend and provide some of the starkest criticisms yet! (If you are interested in supporting us, we are seeking funds for instruments. Please go to under the “Speaking tour” option and indicate that the donation is for “Centro Autónomo- Clase de guitarra”).

This article should be approached as a reified snapshot of an ongoing process. The subtext navigates an ongoing exploration of my own positionality, subjectivity, and agency as a white cis man struggling for decolonization and liberation. As global elites opt for endless war at home and abroad while treating large swaths of the global population as a state-less surplus humanity doomed to navigate migratory and climate chaos without protection, the immediacy of embodied decolonial struggle has perhaps never been greater. I remain convinced that we can navigate the borders of our worlds to struggle for justice, transforming ourselves by cultivating critical consciousness and collective action. Decolonial musicking methodologies connect us to profound histories and can act as potent resources for forging new horizons of human flourishing.

Burke Stanton is a scholar of decolonizing musicking methodologies and a volunteer facilitator at the Chicago-based Centro Autónomo/Mexico Solidarity Network. 

PME_26_1_smallMore from the Philosophy of Music Education Review 26.1

Musicking in the Borders toward Decolonizing Methodologies
Burke Stanton

A “Discomfortable” Approach to Music Education Re-envisioning the “Strange Encounter"
Juliet Hess

A “Sound” Approach: John Cage and Music Education
Stuart Chapman Hill

On Confucian Metaphysics, The Pragmatist Revolution, and Philosophy of Music Education
Leonard Tan

The Nonidentical as a Problem of a Systemic Approach to Scientific Music Pedagogy
Stefan Orgass


A Response to Roger Mantie
Thomas A. Regelski


Children’s Home Musical Experiences Across the World by Beatriz Ilari and Susan Young
Review by: Amy Christine Beegle