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Project Panel at the London Group of Historical Geographers

On 18 May 2021, Norbert Meyn, Beth Snyder, Peter Adey, and Michael Holden introduced the Music, Migration, and Mobility project to a virtual gathering of the London Group of Historical Geographers.

The panel covered the range of activities undertaken by the project, and included discussion on mobility and music, performance-led research, historical musicology, archival research, and digital cartography. Performances of two songs by the songwriter Eric Sanders were also presented as part of the panel; Sanders arrived in Britain on a Kindertransport train in 1938, after leaving his home in Vienna.

The London Group of Historical Geographers is an interdisciplinary seminar series that provides a regular forum for researchers across the arts and humanities to gather and discuss geographical themes from the perspective of a wide array of historical periods. It is based at the Institute for Historical Research, University of London. Owing to the necessity of moving events online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, attendance at the seminars is now possible for researchers from around the world, and this proved to be the case in May.

The event provoked much illuminating discussion around the project, and inspired some important conversation around questions of terminology; why had we chosen to apply the term ‘émigrés’ to the musicians we are studying? Why had we chosen not to make use of the word ‘diaspora’ in our research? Such questions carry implications for the progression of Music, Migration, and Mobility, and they will encourage us to consider a broader constellation of terminology when referring to the musicians under discussion. Similarly – and related to the topic of diaspora – important questions were raised about the cultural Jewishness of the group of musicians we are focusing on, and whilst not all of these individuals were in fact Jewish, many were; as such, it is important that we consider this dimension of their cultural output, where relevant, as we move forward with our work.

The team would like to thank the organisers of the London Group of Historical Geographers for inviting us to deliver our papers, and we are grateful to the attendees of the event, too, for their insightful comments and questions.

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