Jennie Gubner is Visiting Lecturer of Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Her work has focused on music as a form of community engagement and a vehicle for social transformation in Argentina, Southern Italy, and the United States. She is interested in participatory music making practices, intergenerational music scenes, and most recently, the role of individualized music and creative aging in the lives of elders with dementia & Alzheimer’s.
As an ethnomusicologist, Dr. Gubner approaches ethnographic work from a musical perspective. Her use of video/sensory ethnography in her own research and teaching provide a useful model for faculty in other disciplines who may not have considered incorporating ethnographic fieldwork in their own research and teaching.
Her dissertation fieldwork in Buenos Aires resulted in the production of several ethnographic films. In Dr. Gubner’s own words, “In my dissertation I used film, photography and writing to produce local visual and sensory understandings of tango as a live-music culture, not ‘for-export.’” Through her films, Gubner uses experiential modes of knowledge production to combat the exoticizing and reductive ways tango culture is often imagined outside of Argentina. Using visual modes to combat visual stereotypes, her films evoke intimate stories of tango as an integral part of everyday life in the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.
Dr. Gubner’s short film “The Procession of the White Bandoneon” details a celebration in honor of a former star of Buenos Aires’ neighborhood tango scene, Ruben Juarez. It highlights the power of video and sensory approaches to pull the audience into the ethnographic moment in a way difficult to manage in other media.
In her presentation she will discuss her work in Argentina as well as her more recent research setting up a service learning/filmmaking course in which students created individualized iPod playlists for elders with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In this course, she teaches undergraduate students to use film as a sensory ethnographic mode through which to research the effects of music on elders with dementia. Beyond filmmaking she also teaches students to use these films to raise further public awareness about the importance of non-pharmaceutical and creative approaches to dementia care.
The methods Dr. Gubner employs in her work have relevance in a range of fields including anthropology, musicology, and film studies. Bucknell faculty and students studying any aspect of culture (not just music) can benefit from the video/sensory approach.
More on Dr. Gubner’s work: