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Tackling Racial Prejudice with Music: A Perspective

Sandipan Talukdar, Subhendu Ghosh


Despite long efforts in eradicating racial discrimination and the thrive for an egalitarian society, racism still pervades to haunt humanity. With racial discrimination comes prejudice. In fact, it is prejudice that functions as the base for discriminatory psyche and dehumanizing the ‘others’. Prejudice as thought of, could have evolved as a necessary tenet for survival. Human brains are able to differentiate between in group (us) and out group (them) within a fraction of a second. Once necessary for survival, this attribute has largely become a social detriment that the world struggles to overcome. Now the question arises what the brain does in perceiving prejudiced notions? Well, swathes of research have identified the brain wirings involved in prejudice. These researches essentially identify the various brain areas involved in the process of prejudice. Also, there have been findings which discern different layers of prejudice;, for example, simply disliking a group other than the own and going to an extent where minority groups are perceived as inferior than human beings. In humanity’s effort to overcome racial prejudices, music could be an effective tool. Especially, when schoolchildren under the age of 11 years were subjected to cross-cultural music training, prejudice towards the ‘other’ groups got reduced in comparison to those who did not receive any cross-cultural musical training as described in a research by Felix Neto and his colleagues of the University of Porto, Portugal. Other investigations in this regard also hint towards the potential of music as a measure to tackle racial prejudices. India is a country where cultural diversity overwhelms in every sphere of the society. Obviously, music expresses in myriads of forms. Although done in a limited sphere of the academic arena, Indian music and its cognitive underpinnings have lately been researched upon. But the scope remains to investigate how different strokes of music could be useful in tackling prejudices. Here, we try to bring a perspective in this regard so that future researches could be thought of and designed. In our presentation, we would detail on this field of research.


Keywords: Egalitarian society, Racism, Prejudice, Cognitive Underpinnings, Music, FMRI, EEG, PET, Judgement, Humanity

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