| 03.19.2018

Linking music, human rights – Jazz Fest workshop will explore legal foundations as they relate to music worldwide


International human rights often call to mind marginalized groups, radicalized movements or extreme violence.

Jeffrey Dodge, associate dean of the College of Law, said he is hoping to break human rights down to a more foundational level.

Yishan Chen | Argonaut
Jeff Dodge explains his upcoming presentation about the connection between human rights and music.

Dodge will conduct a workshop, “The Relationship Between Music and International Human Rights,” as part of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival”s classroom component. It will be held Friday at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Clearwater and Whitewater rooms in the Idaho Commons.

“This is going to be a really unique opportunity for me to focus on a unique connection between human rights and music, that one may not often think about,” Dodge said.

Dodge said one main point he will explore in his workshop is the connection between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and music.

He said this declaration is seen as the foundational document of everything else that has been done for human rights infrastructure internationally.

Dodge will also address how music is closely related to the freedom of expression, which includes the right to participate in cultural life.

“I think there”s a very positive relationship between the human rights legal infrastructure supporting musicians, and the expression and cultural reflections that come through music,” Dodge said.

Dodge said he will also briefly explain what human rights are, and where they originated from.

Don Burnett, professor of law and former dean of the College of Law, said he thinks this workshop will be a good addition to the other events happening during the festival.

“Jazz is a universal language,” Burnett said. “It really makes sense to emphasize the multicultural and international aspects of music.”

Burnett said that is important because Lionel Hampton himself wanted to encourage the festival   because he believed jazz had reached a plateau in the United States, but was flourishing all around the world.

According to Dodge, people often think of music as it relates to law in the intellectual property area, like with illegal downloading and privacy.

“I thought I”d highlight a connection between music and a discipline that we don”t really think a lot about,” Dodge said. “I wanted to take it to a more foundational level, to a human rights level, to understand what music really represents in a legal context.”

He said he got the idea when he was touching on music in his course on international rights, but only briefly because they focus more on women”s rights, racial discrimination or LGBTQA issues.

“What I hope people will take away from this workshop is that it is a new way of thinking about human rights, not just in the context of the most egregious issues we normally talk about,” Dodge said.

He said some of those issues are people not having access to water, food or voting rights.

“I hope what people walk away with is that the expressions that the artists make in their music, and our reactions, are also part of our human rights protections,” Dodge said.

Diamond Koloski can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @diamond_uidaho

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