BFE Fieldwork Grants Scheme

BFE Fieldwork Award Winners 2024

We are happy to announce our 2024 award winners of the BFE Fieldwork Award. Warm congratulations to this year’s recipients, Jiaxi Xie and Edda Starck. Both proposals were well-conceived and gave clear descriptions of the research and proposed fieldwork. We look forward to reading their fieldwork reports on completion. Outlines of the winners’ research projects are below. Many thanks to our 2024 Fieldwork Grants Scheme prize panel: Andrew Green, Min Yen Ong, and Amanda Villepastour (chair).

Edda Starck

The landscapes surrounding the German violin-making town of Mittenwald have been strongly shaped by and for the making of bowed string instruments (violin, viola, cello). Unique forested landscapes have developed here alongside the local violin building heritage, whose trees provide wood with particularly potent resonating qualities: European Spruce (Picea abies) for the instruments’ top plates and Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) for the sides and backs.

Simultaneously, this heritage is also linked to colonial ecologies. The preferred wood for violin bows is Pernambuco (Paubrasilia echinata), endemic to Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. After centuries of colonial exploitation, Pernambuco is now an endangered species protected under the CITES treaty. The production of bows has become a contested ground, on which the cultural heritage of European instrument makers collides with decolonial and environmental conservation efforts in Brazil.

A multi-sited project, based in Germany and Brazil, my research follows these three music trees from their site of growth to the workbench and into performance spaces. I will draw on multispecies ethnographic and artistic methods to investigate the environmental, social, economic, and political roles these trees play for music. Central to my methodology will be the collection sound recordings that will feature in an exhibition and sound art performance.

Jiaxi Xie

My project explores the music and sound world of the Karen people at Thai-Burmese border, especially focusing on the Karen migrating from Burma to Thailand in last four decades due to the Burmese civil war. It is interdisciplinary and practice-based research that combines ethnomusicology, anthropology and sound studies. 

The Karen is an ethnic minority group in Burma, many of whom have been persecuted by the Burmese military junta and now settle in Thai border areas. Several refugee camps have been built along the border since the 1980s. I will study the Karen music culture around three theoretical issues: ethnicity and identity, diaspora and memory, and war and conflict. Ethnomusicology and soundscape studies frameworks will be used to analyse these three aspects. In addition to the written thesis, my research will include practice-based sensory ethnographies focusing on Karen music and sound. Specifically, ethnographic film is considered visual ethnography, while soundscape compositions serve as sound ethnography. 

I plan to conduct fieldwork along the Thai-Burmese border for ten months. I will work with an NGO and will be based in a Karen village in Mae Hong Son province - the northwest corner of Thai territory – while living with a Karen family. I will also visit several other border towns.  



Click on the links below to view previous recipients of BFE Fieldwork Grants:


BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2023

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2022

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2021

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2020

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2019

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2018

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2017

BFE Fieldwork Grant recipients 2016