Celebrating everyday activism

October 1, 2014

Earth Common Journal launches 2014 issue

IMAGE_STORY_Earth_Common_Journal_launchFrom the perceptions of organics in Ecuador to the sustainability of hip hop culture in Edmonton, the fifth issue of the student-driven and managed Earth Common Journal features peer-reviewed undergraduate research papers that focus on everyday activism.

Students, including Diana Pearson and Roya Yazdanmehr, have put hundreds of hours of work into creating high-quality meaningful research published in the journal. The third-year Bachelor of Music students introduced their research paper, Edmonton Hiphop Kulture: Techniques of Self and Cultural Sustainability, and discussed their findings at the launch event on October 2.

Sustainability—beyond the environment

What does hip hop culture (known within the hip hop community as “Hiphop Kulture”) have to do with sustainability, you might ask? While the environment most often takes centre stage when it comes to sustainability, social and economic preservation also have a role to play.

It was that social side of sustainability—people and culture—that intrigued Diana and Roya. So they worked with music faculty member Dr. Michael MacDonald as research assistants to dig beyond the commercialized surface of hip hop as a musical genre and look deeper into the culture itself to see how the art form is being used as a means of expression and empowerment.

“We learned that Hiphop Kulture goes beyond the commodification of commercialized rap music. It is an art form and a lifestyle that encourages dialogue about education, politics of race and marginalization in our society,” says Diana, who is also a classical pianist. “We wanted to understand more about how this culture of music formed, what it looks like in Edmonton, how it acts as a community practice for healing and speaking out about issues, and how it is sustainable.”

They did that by attending Cipher5, a Hiphop knowledge-sharing circle and performing autoethnography—a form of self-reflection and writing—as a research method that uses personal experience and connects it to a wider cultural meaning and understanding.

“We look at the essential ingredients of community life that contribute to a sustainable cultural practice,” says Roya. “This form of research is different from taking data and analyzing it—it’s very personal and messy work. You’re studying your own self and your responses—but the findings are so interesting.”

Roya and Diana are inviting members of the Edmonton hip hop community to join them when they present those findings at the launch event.

A musical reveal of their findings

“There are a lot of conscious rappers in Edmonton who take a stand on social issues in their work,” says Roya. “Inviting them to join us is a way to honour the work we’ve been involved in. Although we aren’t hip hop artists, we’re involved in the sharing of knowledge, which is one of the key elements of Hiphop Kulture.”

Read more about some of the features in this issue of the journal by student blogger Katrina Lingrell.

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