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Actions We can Take to Improve Diversity and Inclusivity at NIME

The logical symbol ∀ (read as "for all") with the Philadelphia Pride Flag in the background. Design: Juan Martinez Avila.
NIME has a diversity problem, and it remains largely white, male, American-European, able-bodied and English-speaking (1). We believe that groups with important insights and experiences are being underrepresented within NIME as authors (such as non-male people, those who do not speak English as a first language, those with disabilities, and those of other races and ethnicities, just to name a few), and that this underrepresentation means that important ideas and viewpoints that come from a wider range of lived experiences are missing.
Initial efforts to draw attention to diversity within NIME were in response to a lack of gender diversity, such as analyses of NIME’s women authors [1][2], a 2018 workshop on gender diversity in the community (2), the establishment of the WiNIME directory (3) and a 2014 panel discussion that resulted in an article [3]. The NIME diversity statement (4) and the Pamela Z Award were established in 2018 (5) in an effort to foster a larger conversation around broader diversity in this community. However, far more work still needs to be done: In 2020 strong critique emerged of NIME’s lack of political agenda [4], as well as NIME’s current epistemological crises [5], and we acknowledge that our conversation about diversity cannot be centred on a limited number of special interest groups, but must instead extend more widely.
“Diversity” is a complex term. At its simplest diversity describes differences within a group (usually across lines of identity such as race, gender, sexuality, and so on). However, simply acknowledging diversity does not address the structures of power that contribute to a lack of diversity in the first place [6], and here we acknowledge that simply pointing out differences does not go far enough.
We propose extending this existing community work by viewing a lack of diversity through an intersectional lens. Intersectionality, coined by Crenshaw in 1989 [7], refers to the interconnectedness of all discrimination and the common roots in structural inequality (and, most importantly, that focusing on a single axis of discrimination undermines anti-discrimination more widely). With this workshop, we aim to be a point of departure for community discussion, not to address diversity within NIME in one strata (such as gender), but instead to examine the wider structures within the community that include some and exclude others, and to develop strategies to address them. In 2021 we have already begun a trial English-as-second-language assistance program and are developing financial scholarships, ideas drawn from the 2020 NIME diversity survey and subsequent discussions in collaboration with the NIME Ethical and Environmental workgroups, but this is just a start. We see this workshop as a an opportunity for “transforming silence into language and action” [8]; strategy is, as Ahmed states, “not only thought in action but thought sharpened by action.” [9]

Organizers

Dr. Laurel S. Pardue, Ableton AG
Laurel is a software engineer for Ableton Live and diversity officer for NIME. She has held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Queen’s University Belfast, Aalborg University Copenhagen, and Queen Mary University of London where she also obtained her PhD having previously obtained multiple degrees from the Massachussets Institute of Technology. Dr. Pardue specialises in embedded programming, sensor interactions, and real-time audio programming. With a firm grounding in musical practice, she was the lead engineer on the recently released electronic Tabla Touch with Keda Music and Kuljit Bhamra; Gamelan Elektrika, a gamelan interface that debuted with Kronos Quartet at NY’s Lincoln Center; and a hybrid-electro-accoustic violin that placed 3rd at the 2020 International Guthman Musical Instrument Competition. Dr. Pardue has toured Europe as violinist in multiple projects including appearances on BBC Radios 2-6 as well as serving as a UN Peacekeeper in Liberia.
Juan P. Martinez Avila, The University of Nottingham Juan is a Computer Science PhD candidate at the Mixed Reality Laboratory in the University of Nottingham, and a diversity officer for NIME. His work explores ecologically-informed design approaches for new guitar technologies, with a particular interest in performance preparation activities, i.e. learning and rehearsing guitar repertoires. Juan's current design research is grounded on ethnographic studies, participatory design, and soma design, and has received honourable mention awards at CHI 2019 and CHI 2021. As a diversity officer Juan is interested in exploring ways of promoting the work of people from the Global South at NIME, as well as facilitating their access to the conference and collaboration with the global NIME community. He's currently looking for postdoctoral research positions.
Dr. Anna Xambó, De Montfort University
Anna Xambó is a Senior Lecturer in Music and Audio Technology at De Montfort University (Leicester, UK), a member of the Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute of Sonic Creativity (MTI2), and WiNIME officer. Her research and practice focus on sound and music computing systems looking at novel approaches to collaborative, participatory, and live coding experiences. Her solo and group performances have been presented internationally in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA. She is PI of the EPSRC HDI Network Plus funded project "MIRLCAuto: A Virtual Agent for Music Information Retrieval in Live Coding" and has taken leading roles in organisations with a special interest in improving the representation of women in music technology: Women in Music Tech (2016-2017, Georgia Tech); WoNoMute (2018-2019, NTNU/UiO); and WiNIME (2019-present, NIME).
Isabela Corintha, University of Aveiro
Isabela is a PhD candidate in Multimedia in Education at the Department of Communication and Arts, University of Aveiro. Her research focuses on embodied and enactive music cognition approaches to digital musical instrument design. Isabela’s current interests includes the exploration of machine learning models, interactive musical improvisation and music education within the perspective of enactive approach to mind. Isabela’s work has been published at NIME and in the Springer book: Advances in Design, Music and Arts. Diversity and social inclusion have been embedded and integrated to her work since early 2000s when she began her career in the field of electronic music.
Doga Buse Cavdir, Stanford University
Doga Cavdir is a PhD candidate at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her research integrates body movement and expression into designing new musical instruments for cross-disciplinary inclusivity, accessibility, and affordability. Doga’s research and artistic practices focus on utilizing embodied interactive system to offer shared performance spaces to people with diverse skill set and abilities. She continues to contribute to inclusion and diversity practices within and outside of Stanford University. She has been participating in the WiMIR mentoring program and she has been most recently organizing the peer mentoring program, Peer Mentoring in Music, and the Physical Interaction Design Group (PIG) at Stanford. Her artistic work has been featured by Bay Area art centers such as Center for New Music and Temescal Arts Center.
Dr S M Astrid Bin, Ableton AG
Astrid Bin is an artist, technologist and writer. Currently she is a music technology researcher at Ableton AG in Berlin, where her research investigates the human, cultural and technological aspects of designing environments for musical creation and exploration. She specialises in design, interfaces, cultural trends, and embedded real-time applications. She is also a founding developer of Bela.io.

Additional Speakers

Kim Macari is an Artist-Activist immersed in the world of improvised music. Fundamentally she believes in the arts as a powerful tool of empowerment, creative expression and social change. As an artist, she performs in a number of improvised settings on trumpet and spoken word and creates graphic scores, often using ekphrasis and data sonification.
Macari also occupies a number of key positions within the arts world - Programmer for Vortex Jazz Club (ranked in Top 10 jazz venues in the world 2020), Chair of pan-national support body Jazz Promotion Network and is on the Music Team at Arts Council England. She often appears as a cultural commentator at a range of events and publications on topics including gender politics in the arts, diversity and inclusion, cultural identity and the implications of political decision making on the arts.

Footnotes

  1. 1.
    Taken from the NIME Diversity Survey. The results of this survey were shared with the NIME community in the trial online diversity workshop hosted on 14 January 2021, see below for further details.

Citations

  1. 1.
    Essl, G. (2003). On Gender in New Music Interface Technology. Organised Sound, 8(1), 19–30.
  2. 2.
    Xambó, A. (2018). Who Are the Women Authors in NIME?–Improving Gender Balance in NIME Research. In T. M. Luke Dahl Douglas Bowman (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (pp. 174–177). Blacksburg, Virginia, USA: Virginia Tech. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1302535
  3. 3.
    Born, G., & Devine, K. (2016). Gender, Creativity and Education in Digital Musics and Sound Art. Contemporary Music Review, 35(1), 1–20.
  4. 4.
    Morreale, F., Bin, S. M. A., McPherson, A., Stapleton, P., & Wanderley, M. (2020). A NIME Of The Times: Developing an Outward-Looking Political Agenda For This Community. In R. Michon & F. Schroeder (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (pp. 160–165). Birmingham, UK: Birmingham City University.
  5. 5.
    Hayes, L., & Marquez-Borbon, A. (2020). Nuanced and Interrelated Mediations and Exigencies (NIME): Addressing the Prevailing Political and Epistemological Crises. In R. Michon & F. Schroeder (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (pp. 428–433). Birmingham, UK: Birmingham City University.
  6. 6.
    Puritty, C., Strickland, L. R., Alia, E., Blonder, B., Klein, E., Kohl, M. T., et al. (2017). Without inclusion, diversity initiatives may not be enough. Science, 357(6356), 1101–1102.
  7. 7.
    Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. U. Chi. Legal f., 139.
  8. 8.
    Lorde, A. (1977). The transformation of silence into language and action. Identity Politics in the Women’s Movement, 81–84.
  9. 9.
    Ahmed, S. (2016). Living a feminist life (p. 94). Duke University Press.
Last modified 5mo ago