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Eric Petzoldt

PhD Student

University of Cambridge


Eric Petzoldt is a PhD student at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge as part of the ERC-funded research project ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters across the Strait of Gibraltar’ (2019-2022). His doctoral studies focus on jazz as a medium for intercultural dialogue and cultural diplomacy in Morocco within the past twenty-five years, drawing on ethnomusicology, jazz studies, international relations, intercultural studies and music pedagogy. Building on his previous ethnographic work and an internship at the KHOYA sound archive in Casablanca, he completed his Masters in Cultural Musicology and Social & Cultural Anthropology at Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany, in 2019 with a thesis on Jewish musical participation in Morocco and present-day productions of 20th-century popular Maghrebi music in Casablanca. He studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (2013-2014) and the University of the South Pacific in Suva, the Fiji Islands (2016). Eric is an active musician engaging in improvised music and jazz practices and currently acts as the co-coordinator for masterclasses of the Jazz Studies Collaborative. At Wolfson College, Cambridge, he founded the Wolfson Music & Improvisation Workshop and hosted the first session of this continuing series in March 2020.


Eric’s research examines how intercultural dialogue is played out through jazz in Morocco as a way of forming cultural relations between Moroccans and Europeans. He focuses on the role of Euro-Moroccan jazz encounters over the past twenty-five years, marking a period in which intercultural dialogue has been established as an official EU international cultural relations tool. Since the signing of the Barcelona declaration in 1995, commonly referred to as the starting point for an enhanced Euro-Mediterranean partnership, Morocco has evolved as a key strategic North African ally of the EU. To examine how intercultural dialogue has been developed through jazz in Morocco from 1995 to today, this research explores the annual festival circuit, which offers an important context for jazz production, reception and education in Morocco. In particular, he investigates past and present-day musical encounters between European and Moroccan musicians at the oldest European jazz festival hosted outside of Europe, Jazz au Chellah in Rabat, and at the International Jazz Festival of Agadir, Anmoggar N Jazz, founded by a former director of Agadir’s French Institute. By focusing on the facilitation of annually recurring Euro-Moroccan jazz encounters in Morocco, Eric examines both the institutional framework provided by Morocco, the European Union and France, which makes these musical meetings happen, and the actual musical negotiations and encounters that take place in the context of making and learning jazz in Morocco. In other words, he approaches intercultural dialogue through jazz as a politics of cultural diplomacy and international cultural relations. On the other hand, the research considers intercultural dialogue in music-making as a process of collaborative learning: how and whose jazz practice is performed, learnt and taught outside of the United States of America? How is intercultural understanding created through jazz in the context of the official EU-Moroccan festivalisation of cultural diversity? Eric is particularly interested in moments of misunderstanding, disarray and conflict, which complicate the notion of intercultural dialogue as an easy path towards the realisation of utopian goals such as peaceful harmony, mutual understanding, respect, tolerance and equal participation. The research places Euro-Moroccan jazz encounters in the wider geo-political and colonial context of Moroccan relations with Europe and France and offers an analysis of the efficacy of jazz as a tool of intercultural dialogue.

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