I have been fortunate to work with many professors who teach innovative classes in my time at Colorado College. As a former CC student, I am frequently tempted to drop everything and join a class for the duration of the block. Professor Liliana
Carrizo’s CC100/120 course, Music, Food, and the Senses, is one such class.
In Blocks 1and 2, three C & I team members have had the opportunity to work with this class, which brings together ethnographic and literary studies
with acoustemology to examine the engagement of sound and human sensory systems across a range of global contexts. Over two blocks, students explore the sonic, visual, tactile, and culinary practices among different individuals and communities as a way of understanding how musical and culinary expression
intertwine with memory, migration, and resistance.
I sat down with Liliana to talk about the philosophies that undergird the course and how it intersects with her own research. I’m delighted to share excerpts from our conversation.
Jessica Hunter: What motivated you to develop this course?
Liliana Carrizo: It’s very inspired by what I write about and what I do as a researcher. Everything that I do is rooted in sensorial and musical embodiment, cultural understanding, and belonging. A lot of my research addresses how songs follow pathways of migration. You can write alternative histories of human movement and experience by following the paths of songs or recipes. So, the idea for the course came from me asking myself, “Well, what if I applied that kind of lens of inquiry while working with students?”
JH: How does the course unfold over two blocks?
LC: I begin the class by introducing students to ethnographic theory — I kind of front-load the course with that. And then, we take the theories and dig deep by
tracing the paths of recipes and songs in our own lives. This involves a lot of self-reflection, writing, and discussion so that we understand ideas and experiences intuitively and intellectually. This is really where I resonate with what you all do at Creativity & Innovation. I think that it is essential to create space for intuitive and creative understanding.
Once we’ve done a lot of internal work to figure out what these theories mean and how they play out in our own lives, we move it outwards. We start to ask, “What does community-responsive work look like in terms of ethnography? How do we apply the methods of listening we’ve learned as we take our lens outwards? What does it really mean to listen?” So, listening to other people, centering other voices, becomes
essential. And this is where we start bordering on social justice issues: how do we amplify the voices of marginalized communities?
In the third week of block 1 in collaboration with four different CC100 classes, we had a large event focused on music, food, and social justice. The event featured
the Chicanx bands Los Mocochetes and The Pink Hawks from Denver, who do a lot of work in musical education and social justice. And, we partnered with CC Professor Florencia Rojo and Food to Power, as well as the Mobile Arts Truck. Together we started to brainstorm and envision how we can reflect on music and foodways as forms of knowledge that can also serve as sites of resistance to protest systems of inequality and enact social change. What future possibilities do they allow us to envision beyond our current place of social inequality?
JH: What has excited you about this class so far?
LC: I’ve been pushing the boundaries of what we consider academic practice and constantly encouraging the students to take risks. I’ve tried to approach this from a place of respect and care. So, I’m always privileging vulnerability while supporting
students to step outside of purely analytical thinking and learning and embrace theory from an embodied perspective.
At the end of block 1, the students produced ambitious creative projects that
synthesized all that they’ve been learning, thinking, and feeling. The projects took a wide variety of forms, including an ethnographic audiobook, a synesthetic biography of David Bowie through a series of drawings, and the creation of a fictional ethnographic world accompanied by three original songs. The students really ran with the creative project!
I could sense in the early weeks that the students had some fear-based reactions to this open-ended creative project that engages the course’s theories. It was a big experiment because I also hadn’t done something like this before. It was extremely helpful to have the staff from Creativity & Innovation come in and help the students start to access their creative ideas. It got the wheels rolling.
JH: What is coming up in block 2?
LC: The CC120 portion of the class is a writing seminar in which we will continue to play with the ideas of compassionate listening and empathic ways of knowing to learn about the human condition. I see at the forefront of ethnographic disciplines like anthropology and ethnomusicology work that intersects with creative nonfiction. And I think that’s what’s helping to decolonize these disciplines because we’re
throwing away this antiquated idea of an objective knower who can tell a story from an outsider’s perspective. So, we will refer back to some of the questions we explored in block one: What does it really mean to listen and amplify the voices of people who don’t usually get to tell the stories? And what perspectives emerge when we make space for those stories to be told? Block two asks students to start looking deeply at those themes in terms of self-reflection in an even more concentrated way.
Ultimately, the goal is for students to produce a large body of written work by the end of the block that answers the question, “What does your life look like if told from the perspective of music and song?” It’s an auto-ethnographic dive deep, and it’s
JH: What do you hope the students will take away from this class?
LC: They may come out of this class excited to write an academic ethnographic paper, or they might also want to write a podcast or write a blog. I’m hoping that the course will offer them tools that are transferrable in a relevant way that will serve them. Most of these students probably won’t go to musicology grad school. Still, they will likely apply their skills to personal essays, blog posts, websites, memoirs, travel writing, literary journalism, or even cultural criticism. So, I’m always asking myself, how can I apply the tools of the discipline in a way that’s helpful for the students, long-term?