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Solveig Korum

PhD Candidate

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BA European Studies, University of Oslo/Caen (2003-2006)

MA African Studies, University of Oslo/ Dakar (2006-2007)

International Project Manager, Concerts Norway (2008-2016)

Senior Advisor R&D, Arts for Young Audiences Norway (2017-present)


Academic interests

International aid; sustainability; cultural development; music interventions; music and reconciliation; values; legitimacy; postcolonialism



PhD project (started: 2016/ submitted: 2020)

My article-based doctoral thesis contributes to the multifaceted debate concerning the role of music in “development.” By development, I refer to the international aid sector and the deliberate actions of states and/or development agencies to promote equity between various localities and between social groups or classes in the Global South, previously referred to as developing or third world countries. Development studies is an academic field of its own, but it is interdisciplinary in nature, due to heterogenous understandings of what it means and what it takes to create such equity. 

Applying an academic lens that bridges development studies with musicological thought as well as peace studies and postcolonial theory, my work addresses questions about “arts development” versus general views on development assistance in a bid to unpack a particular asymmetry between mainstream development models and the need to strengthen—and therefore empower—the arts sector in the interests of its sustainability. There are, in fact, perpetual tensions between “two opposing professional paradigms: the largely intuitive, practice-led world of the arts and the increasingly evidence-based, bureaucratically driven approaches of international development” (Dunphy 2013: 3).

This study examines how these tensions were negotiated by Concerts Norway (Rikskonsertene), a governmental music organization and key cultural partner of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between 2000 and 2018. In this period, Norway branded itself as a pioneer and principal international funder of cultural expression as a tool for development, based on a distinct twin-track policy seeking to value the social utility of art as well as the art itself. My thesis offers an academic exploration of the ways in which three musical development projects were initiated and conducted by Concerts Norway together with local partners in Palestine, India, and Sri Lanka. The origins and development goals of these three projects differed, in the sense that they were each based on distinct geographical contexts and needs. Yet, many of the key program features were the same.  

This study shows how Concerts Norway and its local partners contributed to strengthening cultural infrastructure in these countries, especially in the concert, festival, and educational fields. Their collaborations furthermore facilitated the transfer of artistic and technical skills, as well as the documentation and preservation of intangible heritage. They were also deemed to be successes by external development evaluators. Yet, a close look at the operational mechanisms of these projects reveals that their framing as “development” initiatives narrowed the scope of their potential agency. The current development system, despite its good intentions, is imbued with outdated binary conceptions and inherited colonial hierarchies, in addition to a result-based management approach that does not work particularly well for the arts. I therefore argue here that the mainstreaming of these musical activities as development limited rather than enhanced their potential furtherance of equity.

A central theoretical contribution of this research is a “post-development framework for music and social change”—that is, a proposal suggesting how a rethinking and restructuring of such projects might contribute to a more humane and fairer global (art) world. The framework pays particular attention to local assessments and processes of change. It urges stakeholders and artists to continuously—and reflexively—analyze their own positions, identities, attitudes, and power relations within the project’s structure, as well as its musical repertoire, teaching methods, and performance arenas. It also opens up for a wider assessment of development “results” than what is currently undertaken.

Key words: international aid, cultural development, music intervention, music and reconciliation, values, legitimacy, postcolonialism

Selected publications

Korum, Solveig, and Gillian Howell. 2020. Competing Economies of Worth in a Music and Reconciliation Partnership: The Sri Lanka–Norway Music Cooperation (2009–2018). International Journal of Cultural Policy, DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2020.1838491

Korum, Solveig, and Bindu Subramaniam. 2020. Culture in International Development: The Role of Concerts Norway in the India–Norway Music Cooperation (2002–2017). Development in Practice, DOI:10.1080/09614524.2020.1732301.

Korum, Solveig. 2020. The Sound of Reconciliation? Musical and Sociocultural Harmony in the Sri Lanka–Norway Music Cooperation (2009–2018). Asian-European Music Research E-Journal 5: pp. 51–65.

Korum, Solveig. 2019. Bang Drums until the Cement Softens: International Music Cooperation in Palestine. In Siemke Böhnisch and Randi Margrethe Eidsaa (eds.), Kunst og konflikt. Teater, visuell kunst og musikk i kontekst, pp. 207–226. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Korum, Solveig. 2007. L’enseignant sénégalais face au programme d’histoire du second cycle: perception et pratiques en classe. MA thesis (French), University of Oslo.

Scientific publications

  • Korum, Solveig; Sørbø, Solveig; Jonsdottir, Oddrun Lilja (2021). Solveigs Speisa Musikk - Intervju om internasjonalt kultursamarbeid på RadiOrakel. 9.mars 2021 (1 time) Også tilgjengelig som podcast..
  • Korum, Solveig (2019). Musical and sociocultural harmony in the context of the Sri Lanka Norway Music Cooperation.
  • Korum, Solveig (2019). The Sound of Reconciliation? "Harmony" in the Sri Lanka Norway Music Cooperation (2009-2018).
  • Korum, Solveig (2019). Bang Drums Until the Cement Softens. International music cooperation in Palestine..

Research groups

Last changed: 12.03.2021 11:03