Welcome! I am Jason Nguyen, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and this blog is where I make observations about music, culture, and academic life.

How bureaucracy produces silence whether it means to or not


For the past two days, I’ve been working with colleagues in the IU Communication and Culture department to figure out how we formulate a response to the recent plans to merge our department, Journalism, and Telecomm into one giant Media School. This is similar to other initiatives around the country, and perhaps should come as no surprise. What did surprise me a little is the extent to which fellow graduates (and I myself) felt like we should do something, but were always somewhat complacent. CMCL grads were in deep on IU on Strike last year–we know what it means to organize and express our opinions. But we weren’t really doing it for this one, and it seemed weird, since the fate of the program was really at stake. Maybe it is  the sense of inevitability, but I think there’s something more going on.

The following is a letter I planned to send to CMCL grad students to maybe light a fire under us. In consultation with some smart friends, I’ve chosen other tactics (check out the Facebook event), but I do think what I had to say might still be interesting.

Continue reading How bureaucracy produces silence whether it means to or not

MLK on the purpose of demonstration

Again I contend that we are not doing more harm than good in demonstration because I think demonstration serves the purpose of bringing the issues out in the open. I have never felt that demonstrations could actually solve the problem. They call attention to the problem. They dramatize the existence of certain social ills […]

The Nietzsche Family Circus

This site takes a random Family Circus and puts it with a random Nietzsche quote. My first two:


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Schedule Gmail delivery with Boomerang (feat. my MCAT students)

Boomerang Gmail LogoSo I’m trying to be more proactive with some of my MCAT students, getting them to make realistic, tangible goals that will drive them to succeed on the test and into their medical careers.  (Folks who recognize my abilities of procrastination will find the fact that I am giving this advice greatly ironic and you are welcome to laugh at me.)

Anyway, I want them to (1) email me one tangible goal at the beginning of the week, and (2) reflect on that goal at the end of the week.  However, if you know college students, that’s actually FOUR emails from me.  The first one to tell them to send me the goal, the second to remind them about it, the third to tell them to send the reflection, and the fourth to remind them to send the reflection.  I’m envisioning this as a weekly thing, so I don’t want to take out 4 times a week to remember to do that.  But I can do it all at once by scheduling emails for the future!

Continue reading Schedule Gmail delivery with Boomerang (feat. my MCAT students)


I haz a new site for my silly things: http://www.lolculture.com

Everyone who has a little lolcat in them should contribute!  Just comment below or email me at lolculture@jrnguyen.com to get added to that blog.

Context: One of them is a kitty.  The other is Claude Levi-Strauss, for whom the idea of The Raw and the Cooked […]

The Media and Race

For those unaware, there was a recent robbery on the IU campus that, because the two groups were of different races, has been framed by the media as a racially motivated attack…we see an important journalistic concern: how to tell the truth while also contextualizing it. […]

Advanced Googling AKA “How I found UNESCO ICH meeting notes”

For the past two weeks, I’ve been digging deeply into Vietnam’s various forays into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage policies, particularly from the perspective of (1) Vietnamese media reports and (2) documents produced by UNESCO.  I used two different techniques for keeping up with both of these fields…

Continue reading Advanced Googling AKA “How I found UNESCO ICH meeting notes”

Inherited burdens: A brief reflection on reflexivity

I was re-reading some notes I had taken on Geertz’s Works and Lives tonight while working on a paper for my fieldwork class.  I appended the following bit to my reflection/summary of the work:

[…]We share a genealogy with those scholars who had transitioned into that post-modern moment, but the traits have been remixed […]