My primary academic interest is the socio-political context of music, focusing on issues relating to cultural identity and intercultural encounters. My research borrows from my background in academic study of art music but seeks to redress the balance of indigenous and immigrant voices within this context. I study works by creative artists that respond to expressive modes from a broad range of cultures and repertoires, examining the politics of their creation and their expressive response to cultural exchange. The theoretical grounding for my work emanates from postcolonial, literary and political discourses, as well as the theoretical and analytical perspectives of studies in cultural anthropology, sociology, musicology and ethnomusicology. These are accessed specifically for an understanding the lived experiences, reception and aesthetic concepts of space and place and the relationships of society, politics, history and music to constructions of identity, nationhood and belonging.
In 2007, I published a preliminary catalogue of Canadian operas that is currently being reconfigured for digital access. From 2002 to 2007, I served as Consultant, Researcher and Writer of web-based educational projects for the Canadian Music Centre, including serving as sole researcher and content provider for the educational websites sound adventure and Sound Progressions, and as the lead researcher for the initial project on Influences of Many Musics. Since 2009 I have co-coordinated with Dylan Robinson the national Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Music in Canada Working Group, which facilitates cross-, multi- and interdisciplinary discussions and publication on issues such as historiography, indigeneity, listening, performativity, and intersensory studies, among others.
Recent projects include examining opera and race, studies of the historico-musical record of indigenous representation in Canadian art music, compiling the entry on "Canada" for Oxford Bibliographies in Music, consideration of cross-cultural exchange in postcolonial works and an intersensory study of listening and contemporary music. I am currently working through a three-year SSHRC Insight Grant project entitled "Resounding Culture: Recontextualizing resources for histories of music in Canada" to develop a linked data (digital) resource to facilitate ongoing historical research across interdisciplinary, multicultural, and multifaceted cultural resources through a web portal. In addition to recent published articles on Canadian opera and the use of educational technologies in undergraduate music history courses, I am compiling a textbook of source readings relating to histories of music in Canada with co-editor David Gramit.
Select current research & publications:
Cultural Extractivism: reconciliation or resurgence?
Questions of resource access and ownership lie at the heart of many settler-native disputes. Although the buzzword of postcolonial agenda in contemporary Canada, ‘reconciliation’ of inequities to indigenous individuals and communities may neither be possible nor desirable for communities marked by decades (if not centuries) of cultural extractivism. For Michi Saagigg Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson, resource extraction threatens not only lands, but entire lifeways of indigenous peoples, making ‘reconciliation’ another place for assimilation. In considering Simpson’s distrust of cultural extractivism, this research examines collaborative multimedia works created in Canada for expressions of alternative, collaborative spaces that revitalize rather than subsume indigenous practices. Viewed through Simpson’s lens of ‘resurgence’, such works magnify the socio-cultural, political, and environmental impacts of cultural resource extraction while acknowledging indigenous agency across the images, text, audio-visual materials, media, and individuals co-present in creative practice.Echoes from The Lake
This research proposes an intercultural and multimodal approach to Barbara Pentland and Dorothy Livesay’s opera The Lake (1952) that considers its formative and performative resources in articulating Canada’s ongoing decolonization project with First Nations communities. The Lake relates the story of a late 19th century settler-native encounter through dramatization of events involving the spirit of Lake Okanagan, N'ha-a-itk or Ogopogo. Considering present-day interests of the Syilxwto recontextualize these narratives, this work examines the discourses of settler and native, considering aspects of narrativity and temporality in their voices through Catherine Clément’s concept of syncope as revealed in their performance.
Ingraham, M., and B. Wells. 2018. “Listening to the Lake.” University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 4. (Fall 2018), pp. 102-119. DOI: 10.3138/UTQ.87.4.11.
Deterritorializing Spirituality: Intercultural Encounters in Chan's Iron Road
This research deconstructs the interplay of narrative and musical elements in Ka Nin Chan and Mark Brownell’s 2001 opera Iron Road to encourage greater understanding of the intercultural encounters of immigrant and settler communities over a century ago. Chan and Brownell were inspired by unfamiliar stories of early Chinese immigrants and their silencing in historical accounts of the Canadian West and this research recognizes the workers themselves, revealing the tensions of historical intercultural encounters to revisit their contribution to Canadian history and society. The opera also communicates a contemporary 21st century perspective on interculturality because of the immediacy and mediating properties of both Chinese cultural traditions and the European operatic framework engaged for the work.
Ingraham, M. 2017. “Deterritorializing Spirituality: Intercultural encounters in Chan’s Iron Road.” In China and the West: Music, representation, and reception, M. Saffle & H. Yang, eds. University of Michigan Press, 215-44.
Creative Collaboration: The Social Efficacy of Music in Canada
The Social Efficacy of Music in Canada was a three-year research project spanning 2013-2015, with the goals of better understanding the processes, challenges, and results of musical collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous artists in Canada. The research is grouped around three case studies discrete in scope, location, and production protocols. Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, this project examined intercultural music collaboration across Canada. Dr. Mary Ingraham (Alberta) worked with both Dr. Robin Elliot (Toronto) and Dr. Dylan Robinson (Queen’s) to build a multi-year research program that would build a better understanding of collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous communities through case studies in Canada. From 2013-15, investigators and research assistants undertook mixed methods research including direct participation, observation of rehearsals and workshops, and interviews with artistic partners and participation in the First People’s Cultural Council forum on cultural protocols (E’nowkin Centre, Penticton). To view the website, click the link in the right-hand column of this page, or go to https://creativecollaboration.ca/overview/.
Ingraham, M. “Learning Together at the Lake: Conversations and collaborations from The Lake | N-ha-a-itk.” In Creative Entanglements: Indigenous-Settler Collaboration in Canadian Art Music. J, Strachan and P. Nickleson, eds. McGill-Queens University Press. In development.