Liminality as Thought and Action

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This article discusses liminality as thought and action in urban music education programs.

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23 p.

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Emmanuel, Donna T. August 2011.


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This article discusses liminality as thought and action in urban music education programs.

Physical Description

23 p.


Abstract: Turner's (1974) conception of liminal space provides an entry point to look beyond the given and to create opportunities to examine, critique, and challenge the assumptions inherent in many music programs. Building upon his theory of liminality as a place that is "ambiguous, neither here or there, betwixt and between all fixed points of classification", one might use this framework to create a place in which differing cultures, ideals, and values could meet, potentially generating relationships and community. Urban settings are often the meeting ground for dramatic cultural clashes given that music teachers often fit the typical profile of White, middle class, and female and often have few commonalities with their urban students. In this paper, the author explores the concept of liminality in the context of urban music education programs and examines its importance from the standpoint of both the music teacher and the student. Music teachers who work in urban settings often dwell in liminal situations in which their roles are ambiguous and uncertain. Students in urban school settings might exist outside of their normal musical, social and cultural structures. Thus, urban settings provide a particularly powerful place of liminality where teachers and students might discover alternative ways to build relationships and communities.


  • Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, 2011, Manitoba: MayDay Group, pp. 47-68


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  • Publication Title: Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 1
  • Page Start: 47
  • Page End: 68
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes


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UNT Scholarly Works

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  • August 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • April 2, 2012, 4:46 p.m.

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  • July 22, 2013, 1:50 p.m.

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Emmanuel, Donna T. Liminality as Thought and Action, article, August 2011; [Manitoba, Canada]. ( accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT College of Music.