The biennial BFE Book Prize recognizes outstanding scholarship in ethnomusicology written in English. Both monographs and edited volumes published in the two years preceding each Prize are eligible to be submitted. (Co)authors and (co)editors must all be BFE members at the time of submission, while contributors to edited collections are welcome to join. No book may be entered more than once for this prize. This prestigious award carries a prize of £100.
Previous BFE Book Prize Winners:
The 2018 BFE Book Prize is awarded to Noriko Manabe’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music after Fukushima. It is an ethnography of music in the antinuclear movement in Japan after the devastating nuclear disaster of 2011. Manabe examines the different kinds of spaces in which protest unfolds in Japan including, crucially, cyberspace, and she shows how musicians and protestors work around significant constraints on their activities. She writes that
Cyberspace has redefined the geographical and temporal limits of these spaces. When television stations repeatedly failed to broadcast antinuclear protests, citizens took it upon themselves to twitcast them in real time or upload videos and photos of them, creating an extensive archive. Cyberspace greatly expanded the reach of these protests, allowing people to participate in them from other places and observe them at another time in playback. … On the other hand, because of cyberspace, festivals are no longer the separate environments they once were; through Twitter, people outside of the festival site have a view into the events and performances and can criticize or attack artists, audience members, or the festival itself. … Although anonymity in cyberspace allows citizens to be more open about their political views, the disembodied nature of cyberspace also causes people to behave in a more brutal manner toward others.
In this moment of heightened and anxious scrutiny of cyberspace as a forum for both activism and manipulation, Manabe’s book offers a thoughtful ethnographic look at a specific context for music and political action, in a variety of spaces both physical and virtual.
The Commendation goes to David F. Garcia’s Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music's African Origins. The book focuses on the 1930s through 1950s, showing how key actors deliberately linked black music and dance to ideas about ‘Africa’ and ‘nature’ as part of a strategy to ‘help realize modernity’s promises of freedom in the face of fascism and racism in Europe and the Americas, colonialism in Africa, and the nuclear threat at the start of the Cold War.’ But the unintended effect was to reinforce binaries between white and black, modern and primitive. ‘Black music and dance’ Garcia argues, ‘were not merely products of New World Negro or black Atlantic history but instead formed, from their affective materializations as movement and sound, a historical map with time and race.’
Many congratulations Noriko and David!
Prize Committee: Frederick Moehn (Chair), Laudan Nooshin and Frances Wilkins.
This prestigious award was presented at the BFE Annual General Meeting during the BFE annual conference at Kent (April 2016). The BFE book committee (Trevor Wiggins, Rachel Harris, and Chloe Alaghband-Zadeh) worked long and hard during the selection process, and were impressed by the extremely high quality of many of the books. The books were written by authors from diverse institutional backgrounds on subjects spanning the breadth of the current ethnomusicological field. The BFE is grateful to all those who submitted books to this competition and looks forward to future contributions.
Winner of the BFE Book Prize 2016: Nooshin, Laudan. Iranian Classical Music. The Discourses and Practice of Creativity. Ashgate Press, 2015.
Iranian Classical Music is the product of a long journey by the author from her PhD to recent research, revisited in the light of post-colonial theory, and interrogates many aspects of theory through the lens of the study of musicians and their practices. It aims to understand musical creativity as meaningful social practice, to find an approach through Iranian creative practice that overcomes the composition/improvisation dualism and undoes the logic of alterity. As well as the detailed engagement and analysis of Iranian music, this monograph is located within a theoretical discourse that includes issues relevant to all ethnomusicological research, including a critique of binaries (ethno/musicology, West/East, folk/art, us/them, individual/collective), connections between musical and linguistic cognitive processes, music/linguistic grammars, the motor/body creative impetus, and defining terminology when moving between languages. The structure of the book is clear and logical and the notational examples are fully supported with an included CD. The writing style is very clear, dealing with complex issues and explaining them, showing great awareness of issues of language and communication with a wide readership.
Laudan Nooshin is Reader in Ethnomusicology in the Music Department at City University London, UK. Her research interests include creative processes in Iranian music; music and youth culture in Iran; music and gender; neo/post-colonialism and Orientalism; and music in Iranian cinema. Recent publications include Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity (Ashgate Press, 2015), the edited volumes Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia (2009, Ashgate Press) and The Ethnomusicology of Western Art Music (2013, Routledge), as well as book chapters and journal articles in Iranian Studies, Ethnomusicology Forum and the Journal of the Royal Musical Association. Laudan is currently on the Editorial Boards of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication (Brill) and Ethnomusicology Forum (Routledge). She is also a Council Member of the Royal Musical Association. From 2006–9 she was a member of the International Advisory Panel of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association and between 2007–11 was co-Editor of Ethnomusicology Forum.
Commendation Book Prize 2016: Villepastour, Amanda. The Yorùbá God of Drumming. Transatlantic Perspectives on the Wood that Talks. University Press of Mississippi, 2015.
The Yorùbá God of Drumming is a multifaceted book with an emphasis on collaboration, deeply immersed in Yorùbá studies. It shows meticulous attention to detail and is densely referenced, with a strong sense of passion for the subject. It supports writing from practitioners whose voices might otherwise not be heard, including them as the authors rather than informants, showing impressive editorial skill in making this a coherent book while retaining a diversity of experience and communication styles.
Amanda Villepastour trained as a composer at University of Western Australia then forged her first career as a keyboardist and songwriter with artists including Boy George, the Gang of Four, and Billy Bragg. Since completing her PhD in ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London (2006), about sacred drumming in Nigeria and Cuba, she served as a founding curator at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona. Villepastour is now a teacher/researcher in the School of Music, Cardiff University, Wales, and is the author of Ancient Text Messages of the Yorùbá Bàtá Drum (Ashgate 2010).
Congratulations Laudan and Amanda!
1st winner of the BFE Book Prize (2014):
Novak, David. Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.
This prestigious award was presented at the BFE Annual General Meeting during the BFE annual conference at SOAS (July 2014). The BFE book committee (Martin Stokes, Simon Mills, and Hettie Malcomson) worked long and hard during the selection process, and were impressed by the extremely high quality of many of the books. In total, 17 monographs and 9 edited volumes were received, totalling 26 books, published in 2012 or 2013. The books were written by authors from diverse institutional backgrounds on subjects spanning the breadth of the current ethnomusicological field. Over half of these books were published by UK presses, with entries also with Chinese, German and US publishers. The BFE is grateful to all those who submitted books to this competition and looks forward to future contributions. It especially wishes to thank the three judges who reviewed the submissions: Martin Stokes (Kings College London), Simon Mills (Durham University), and Hettie Malcomson, chair (Southampton University).