Vitalis Im

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10120

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Im, Vitalis (Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of) "Sounds from Within: An Ethnography of Musical Practice in Michigan Prisons"

This project explores music as a “life-saving” practice in Michigan prisons. It examines how incarcerated peoples come to reflect on, organize, and politicize their experiences of incarceration through their orientations to sound and musical practice. Music in these spaces serves multiple and contradictory goals. Wardens and chaplains bring music to the inside as a means to “civilize” incarcerated populations; facilitators and music educators hope that music will liberate their workshop participants from the monotony and violence that characterizes the everyday for incarcerated peoples. While seemingly contradictory, these parties share a common goal: to “save” lives. In order to explore how music mediates the experiences of incarceration, this project starts from this paradoxical conceptualization of music as both a disciplinary and liberatory practice. By studying musical practice in prisons as a practice of care, this study seeks to bring to the fore those ideologies, relationships, and ways of being that are embedded in the experiences of incarceration that are inaccessible by other avenues of investigation.