Accepted Paper:

Italian lullaby: ethnography of a music therapy intervention project in pediatric hospitals, right before sleep time  

Author:

Leonardo Menegola (University of Milano Bicocca)

Paper Short Abstract:

Drawing on four years-long research with a group of music therapists, this paper explores the sensorial implications of an intervention project in pediatric departments, right before the time of sleep. Ecological, historical and social analysis of an ephemeral sensory-cultural phenomenon.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on four years-long research with a group of music therapists, this paper explores the sensorial implications of an intervention project in pediatric departments, right before the time of sleep.

Ecological, historical and social coordinates are made explicit: whom does the intervention involve? Which sensoria does Music Therapy involve, especially from a medical anthropological perspective? Where does the radical otherness of music therapists' practices lay, as compared to the everyday nature of the hospital room? Finally, anthropological analysis of 'the embodied' and 'the nonverbal' sheds light over an ephemeral sensory-cultural phenomenon: a non-biomedical action, exquisitely "oral", scientifically almost meaningless, running across the otherwise silent corridors of a medical institution.

But where does communication base, in Music Therapy? And how its aesthetics turns into an epistemological-therapeutic ideology? Does that happen because the healing device consists of a delicate, subtle chime sound, or a mysterious singing, gently approaching? Or is it so for the patient laying in the bed is a child? And what if the ones who fall asleep will be the parents, attending in angst at their child's sickbed?

By exploring the sensory and bodily experience of suffering children and musical healers, the paper aims at contributing to the anthropological understanding of the medicalization of healing. As the sounding movements of music therapists speak to representations about 'mind' and 'body', the refreshing restoration of their lullabies witnesses of a peculiar way of framing the relationship between (a sick) Self and (a care-providing) society.

Panel P069
The sensory experience of suffering and healing