The special issue of the journal The World of Music has just been published--the one on music and sustainability, with outstanding essays from scholars Tom Turino, Mark DeWitt, Lois Wilcken, Janet Topp-Fargion, and Tom Faux, along with my essay on an ecological approach to musical sustainability, and my editor's introduction to the entire volume. The wheels of publication turn slowly, but they do turn; now we shall wait to see what response is forthcoming.
In the meantime, a seminar during the current semester on music and cultural policy has helped inform me on what some others have been saying about these issues. I've refrained from commenting on the seminar here because, of course, the students know about this research blog, and I would prefer that they formulate their own ideas in response to the topic and weekly assignments. Still, it's plain that much of the discourse revolving around heritage and cultural tourism and engines of sustainability is based in economics; some is based in cultural studies. To date ecology has contributed only a little, by way of the concepts of biodiversity and conservation; my hope is that others will begin to think about how conservation works (and does not work) in ecology, and not simply borrow the concepts. For example, there is an interesting values-based critique of biodiversity that I hope will be the subject of a future post here.
Obviously, one of the things that fascinates me is the way these two discourses, economics and ecology, employ the concept of sustainability. I began to write about this in the paper for the American Folklore Society last fall--printed in its entirety in this blog a few months ago--and now I wish to explore it further. And so I've been reading not just in economics but in the field of ecological economics, to see what is out there.