Aleysia Whitmore

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Music
Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver

Research project

Cultural Policy and World Music in France: Negotiating Difference and Nationhood


Since the mid-20th century, les musiques du monde (world music) have flourished in France, enjoying significant government support and enthusiastic fans. At the same time, as growing numbers of immigrants have settled in France, the nation has struggled to embrace diverse peoples who are often marginalized geographically (in particular neighborhoods) and politically (e.g., laws about dress). National and local governments have had to rethink how to promote values fundamental to the French nation, such as equality and laïcité (secularism), in increasingly diverse cultural contexts. In this project, I tease out this tension by examining how and why state funders and audiences have embraced world musics, while increasingly charged (and often racialized) rhetoric concerning immigrants, cultural diversity, and integration grows louder. This ethnographic project will draw on the fields of cultural policy, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and ethnomusicology to examine: (i) how and why funding organizations support world music; (ii) how this support impacts music projects; and (iii) how ideas about nationhood, diversity, and multiculturalism circulate through these projects. French government bodies have long justified state support of French popular and classical musics by arguing that these musics contribute to core democratic and egalitarian national values. Discourses surrounding state support for world musics, however, remain unexamined. In preliminary research, I found that government actors justify support for world musics by combining existing ideas about Western musics’ value in French society with emerging ideas about the dynamic (and increasingly diverse) musics, cultures, and politics in contemporary France. This project will explore how funding bodies, musicians, industry professionals, and audiences develop and experience world music projects as they bring together existing discourses about music’s place in France with new ideas about cultural diversity, French culture, and world musics in an increasingly diverse nation. By examining how artistic creation, politics, and culture intersect through multiple disciplinary lenses, I hope to develop a view of cultural policy that will be of broader use to music and policy professionals in culturally diverse contexts.





Aleysia K. Whitmore is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. Her research focuses on the world music industry, globalization, and cultural policy. Her current book project analyzes how musicians, industry actors, and audiences create, promote, and consume West African and Cuban musics in the world music industry. She is also conducting research on how cultural policies engage with diverse music practices in the southeast of France. She has taught popular music, world music, and classical music courses at Brown University, Boston College, the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado Denver. She holds a BMus from the University of Toronto (Canada) and AM and PhD degrees in ethnomusicology from Brown University (USA).



Selected publications


'The Art of Representing the Other: Industry Personnel in the World Music Industry', Ethnomusicology, vol. 60, no. 2, 2016, pp. 329-355.


''Cuban Music is African Music’: Productive Frictions in the World Music Industry', MUSICultures, vol. 40, no. 1, 2013, pp. 121-144.


''Cuban Music is African Music’: Negotiating Africa and its Diaspora on the World Music

Stage’, African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, vol. 9, no.3, 2013, pp. 111-121.


‘Bodies in Dialogue: Performing Gender and Sexuality in Salsa Dance’, in S. Burcon & M.A. Jefferson (eds), Women and Language: Essays on Gendered Communication Across Media, McFarland Press, North Carolina, 2011, pp. 137-150.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Comparative Studies
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Literature
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Linguistics