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Nelsen Hutchison, Ph.D Ethnomusicology Student, Will Do Ethnography of SF Jazz Scene

"The Social Science Research Council Dissertation Development Program (SSRC-DPD) helps graduate students in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences develop their dissertation research. SSRC-DPD fellows attend a series of workshops that provide training in professional skills, introductions to a range of methodologies, and interdisciplinary feedback from graduate student peers and faculty. After attending workshops throughout the spring quarter fellows conduct summer research projects with a $5,000 grant from the program and discuss their results with their cohort in the fall.

The project I proposed is an ethnography of the San Francisco Bay Area jazz scene. My research asks how jazz musicians navigate temporary and precarious employment opportunities, understand their live performances as commodities, engage in a dialectic of creative autonomy and financial security, practice alternative forms of collectivization, and grapple with legislation meant to curb the employment of independent contractors. My ethnographic data would situate present conditions of labor and community in the context of Bay Area history particularly in relation to the increasing costs of living, the rise of the technology sector, the institutionalization of jazz in education and performance venues, and the region’s history of structural racial violence through urban renewal and gentrification. My original planned research methods included in-person interviews and participant observation in jam sessions and concerts. However, with the recent shelter-in-place orders and closure of music venues, my methodology and the focus of my project will need to shift to account for these recent developments. I look forward to working with faculty and peers in the SSRC-DPD to find creative ways of adapting my research project to address the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic."