Members news

Dear BFE members, please do share your news with us. Whether it be news about your latest fieldwork trip, your media work or your performances, the release of your new book, your new academic appointment or PhD completion, your success in contests, prizes and grants or any other achievement, we would like to hear about it.

To share your news, please write a short announcement, attach a picture or two and send them to our BFE Administrator: adminatbfe.org.uk (Fiorella Montero Diaz)

Older news are in news archive.

Following our recent call for applications to the BFE Fieldwork Grant Awards scheme, we are delighted to announce that three fieldwork grants have been awarded for 2017. It was a hotly contested competition this year, with a very high standard of applications; but we offer huge congratulations to Sophia Frankford, Pablo Infante-Amate and Katie Young, who are the 2017 grant recipients. Sophia, Pablo and Katie introduce their research projects below, and we look forward to hearing more from them when they return from the field.

 

Sophia Frankford

My research focuses on Egyptian sha’bi music, a contemporary urban genre that emerged from working-class neighbourhoods in 1970s Cairo. Sha’bi is at once valourised as an antithesis to cosmopolitan genres of the elite, and criticised as an undesirable and backward genre of the uneducated masses. Through tracing the development of the genre from the 1970s to the present day, I plan to examine its role in shaping a working-class Egyptian identity, exploring how it served as an impetus for a reframing of cultural ideals and class stereotypes, and a vital path through which modern identities have been re-imagined.

 

Pablo Infante-Amate

My project explores the recent birth of a digital music economy in Equatorial Guinea, and how this has been facilitated and hindered by a combination of two key events: the discovery of large oil reserves in the mid-1990s and the introduction of digital technologies starting from the early 21st century. My research will thus bring together the anthropology of oil and the study of digital media in Africa to analyze changing musical practices, aesthetics, and ontologies. My broader goal is to understand how music is a mediator of musicians’ perceptions, expectations, fears, and hopes relating to oil and the digital and neoliberal world order; and how such an approach can help to theorize capitalism, precarity, and uncertainty in Africa and beyond.

 

Katie Young

My upcoming fieldwork focuses on the influence of Hindi film songs in the Mawlid festival in northern Ghana. Performed by Tijaniyyan Muslims across Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, northern Ghana, northern Nigeria and Senegal, the Mawlid festival throughout West Africa includes drumming, dancing and vocal texts used to praise and celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. In northern Ghana, the majority of the Mawlid repertoire sets Quranic texts to Hindi film song melodies. As Islamic festival performances are strongly influenced by regional musical and linguistic traditions, my fieldwork seeks to explore how Hindi film songs are employed as extra-Islamic music in defining a “localized Islam” in the northern Ghanaian context.

 

 

 

Congratulations to BFE Member Moshe Morad! His latest book 'Fiesta de diez pesos: Music and Gay Identity in Special Period Cuba' (SOAS Musicology Series) is the winner of the 2016 Marcia Herndon Prize, awarded by the Gender and Sexuality Section, SEM.
 
From the Marcia Herndon Award Committee:
"Morad's 'Fiesta de diez pesos' is a splendid book; a wonderful read, deep in ethnographic detail, and a major contribution to ethnomusicological literature. Well-written, rigorously researched and valuable, giving the lie to the implicit suggestion in so much ethnomusicological work that only heterosexuals make or consume music in those "Other" locales."
 
One of our senior committee members writes:
"The chapter on 'gay' or 'effeminate' men and their centrality in Santeria worship is something I will add to my syllabi. As the inaugural winner of this new prize, 'Fiesta de diez pesos' exemplifies the highest qualities of writing, ethnography, provocative interpretation, and commitment to political justice."
 
Moshe adds:
"In perfect timing the book's paperback version just came out by Routledge (making it much more affordable:)..."
 
Well done Moshe - what a fantastic achievement!
 

Flamenco, Regionalism and Musical Heritage in Southern Spain explores the relationship between regional identity politics and flamenco in Andalusia, the southernmost autonomous community of Spain.

In recent years, the Andalusian Government has embarked on an ambitious project aimed at developing flamenco as a symbol of regional identity. In 2010, flamenco was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, a declaration that has reinvigorated institutional support for the tradition. The book draws upon ethnomusicology, political geography and heritage studies to analyse the regionalisation of flamenco within the frame of Spanish politics, while considering responses among Andalusians to these institutional measures.

Drawing upon ethnographic research conducted online and in Andalusia, the book examines critically the institutional development of flamenco, challenging a fixed reading of the relationship between flamenco and regionalism. The book offers alternative readings of regionalism, exploring the ways in which competing localisms and disputed identities contribute to a fresh understanding of the flamenco tradition. Matthew Machin-Autenrieth makes a significant contribution to flamenco scholarship in particular and to the study of music, regionalism and heritage in general.

For a short overview of the book, see the University of Cambridge's research feature: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/flamenco-what-happens-when-a-grassroots-musical-genre-becomes-a-marker-of-culture

 

Matthew Machin-Autenrieth is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, UK. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the School of Music, Cardiff University in 2013. His research concerns flamenco, regionalism, politics and multiculturalism in Southern Spain.

The BFE recently launched a Fieldwork Grants Scheme to support the fieldwork of doctoral researchers in ethnomusicology. We are delighted to announce that three fieldwork grants have been awarded under the 2016 Scheme. Many congratulations to Tamara Turner, Saeid Kordmafi and Maya Youssef, who are the first grant recipients. Tamara, Saeid and Maya introduce their research projects below and we look forward to hearing more when they are back from the field.

 

Tamara Turner

My research provides the first ethnomusicological study of Algerian diwan, a music ritual tradition that coalesced out of the trans-Saharan slave trade through the segregation of displaced sub-Saharan populations. These communities were heavily influenced by the local religious practices and socio-political organization of Sufi lineages. Consequently, diwan developed into a syncretic, Afro-Maghrebi ritual practice predicated on saint veneration, trance, and ritual healing. I approach diwan by attending to the "heavy lifting" that music does in ritual and consider the dynamics of music and transe though the agency of public emotionality and the aesthetics of illness and healing.

 

 

Saeid Kordmafi

The project proposes a descriptive theory emerging out of what classical Arab musicians currently do in their metric practice. I plan to carry out ethnomusicological fieldwork in Beirut to examine library-based studies and musicological analyses of metric materials of the classical repertoire. Moreover, working with musicians and scholars, I will be seeking a deeper understanding of their theoretical approaches to the rhythmic-metric system, as well as the ways which metric cycles are perceived by musicians. 

 

 

 

Maya Youssef

In a time of deep suffering for my homeland, Syria, words have fallen short of offering refugee children a way to touch on and come to peace with what they have seen and witnessed. Music stands out amongst all mediums in its ability to go to the heart of human emotion. I will take my kanun, my music and a story on fieldwork trips to the refugee camps in Germany, Lebanon and Denmark, where I will facilitate workshops in the hope of bringing an opportunity for these children to begin a process of healing whilst also contributing to the humanist line in ethnomusicology.

 

 

 
BFE member Moshe Morad received an honorable mention in the 2015 Alan Merriam Prize for his monograph "Fiesta de Diez Pesos: Music and Gay Identity in Special Period Cuba". http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472424570
 
Here is the text of the announcement: 
 
An honorable mention for the Merriam prize goes to Moshe Morad’s book, Fiesta de diez pesos: Music and gay identity in Special Period CubaFiesta de diez pesos is a brilliantly rich and vivid ethnography of (male) gay musical spaces and identities in Cuba, exploring underground or conveniently unnoticed worlds and the centrality of music and dance to their existence and operation. It spans an impressive range of contexts: the precarious yet irrepressible world of underground fiestas, dance parties held in changing secret locations; the national ballet, which Morad terms the ‘most obvious discreet gay space in Havana’; Santeria ritual performances, an indigenous arena that embraces space for gay and transgender performance and performers; and the ordinary domestic worlds of music and queer identification. 

 In all these contexts, Morad draws the reader into vibrant experiential accounts of the use of music and dance by gay men that open up interlocking meanings and functions of performance, performativity, gender and sexuality. Working in the period from the 1990s, the book explores the rapid economic, social and cultural changes in Cuba arising in response to the crisis following the loss of support from the Soviet Union. One such development is the opening up of the country to tourism, with the book growing from an initial visit by the author in 1994.

 Fiesta de diez pesos is both a distinguished contribution to the ethnomusicological literature on sexuality, and an outstanding example of ethnographic fieldwork that is warm, human, engaged, unpretentiously reflexive, and strikingly perceptive. It is informative and compelling, and succeeds in analysing its subjects and their musical behaviour in close detail, but without ever othering them. 

 

 

Congratulations to Hettie Malcomson (University of Southampton) whose article ‘Aficionados, Academics, and Danzón Expertise: Exploring Hierarchies in Popular Music Knowledge Production’ (Ethnomusicology, 2014) received a special mention for the Bruno Nettl Prize at the 60th annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology in Austin, Texas. The purpose of the Bruno Nettl Prize is ‘to recognize an outstanding publication contributing to or dealing with the history of the field of ethnomusicology, or with the general character, problems, and methods of ethnomusicology’.

The abstract of the article reads as follows: Amateur scholars, such as aficionados, fans, intellectuals, are rarely valued in the twenty-first-century academy, despite their often-encyclopedic knowledge. In this paper, I focus on Mexican aficionados of the popular Cuban music danzón to explore how these mostly older men manage social contexts where they are often marginalized. Drawing on Bourdieu, I examine how danzón aficionados negotiate their field of expertise by employing overlapping strategies: accumulating myriad “facts” and “truths”, creating the possibility of ignorance in others, and competing for hegemonic masculine capital. I analyse danzón aficionados’ relationships with musicians and dancers, consider power dynamics between these aficionados and academics, and draw on Léon and Romero to discuss relationships between regional and hegemonic scholarship more broadly. I argue that beyond reflexivity and criticism, collective activism is required to reconfigure value systems and symbolic economies, and to fight institutional pressures to reproduce existing power structures.

By Liam Barnard, lab43atkent.ac.uk

2015 marks the 10th Anniversary of the foundation of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and its predecessor, the AHRB. As part of the commemorations, the Anniversary Research in Film Awards were held to great fanfare in the plush surroundings of the BFI South Bank on the 12th November, where delegates from across academia and beyond were gratefully wined and dined. Out of a field of over 200 entries, BFE stalwart, SOAS Ethnomusicologist and Radio 3 broadcaster Lucy Duran’s film, ‘The Voice of Tradition” triumphed in what was probably the most prestigious of the five categories, claiming the ‘Anniversary Award for Best AHRC/AHRB-Funded Film Since 1998’. Although Lucy was not able to attend the awards ceremony in person to collect the not insubstantial glass trophy, the applause suggested that hers was a popular winner. The evening proved to underline the AHRC’s commitment to the wider field of ethnographic documentary, with Anna Sowa’s gorgeously shot film, ‘Kanraxel: The Confluence of Agnack’ taking home the title of ‘Best Research Film In the Last Year’, a double endorsement for SOAS.

Other award winners included Northumbria University Jacqueline Donache’s ‘Hazel’, picking up ‘The Doctoral Award’, the entertaining animation ‘The Adventure of the Girl with the Light Blue Hair’ earning Ronan Deazley and Bartolomeo Meletti from Create University of Glasgow ‘The Innovation Award’ for best film in the last year, and the public award of ‘Inspiration Award’ for best film inspired by Arts and Humanities Research was awarded to Myriam Rey’s ‘This Island’s Mine’.

The success of ethnographic documentary films with exotic locations and the resultant first class cinematography in this competition should bring some comfort to those of us who work and train as ethnomusicologists, worried by the squeeze in funding for research into the Arts and Humanities in general. Hopefully this interest in supporting ethnographic inquiry will guarantee the place of ethnomusicology in the pantheon of AHRC funding commitments beyond the near future.

All in all, a fantastic evening of quality film, quality networking, and a genuinely friendly party atmosphere was had by all. Let’s raise a glass to the next ten years and indeed, beyond…

Congratulations to Noel Lobley who began a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Virginia. Also, many congratulations to Noel for being invited to give the RAI Curl Lecture 2015. Great achievement Noel! 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Fiorella Montero Diaz who in September took up a position as Lecturer in Music at Keele University. Many congratulations! 

 

 

 

Hindi films and film songs have dominated Indian public culture, and have made their presence felt strongly in many global contexts. While the existence of songs in Hindi films is commonly dismissed as ‘purely commercial’, this book demonstrates that in terms of the production process, musical style, and commercial life, the parent film powerfully shapes and defines the film songs and their success. Analyzing Hindi film songs in cinematic context, Anna Morcom reveals that they are situational, dramatic sequences, inherently visual and multi-media in their style and conception - pop songs conjoined with cinema. 

This book is uniquely grounded in a wealth of ethnographic material from the Hindi film and music industries as well as detailed musical and visual analysis of Hindi film songs, song sequences, and films. Its findings lead to highly novel ways of viewing Hindi film songs, their key role in Hindi cinema, and how this affects their wider life in India and across the globe. With a new preface updating the reader on recent developments, this book will remain indispensable to scholars seeking to understand Hindi film songs, Hindi cinema, and Indian popular music more broadly. The book caters for both music specialists as well as a wider audience.

Edited by Jim Samson, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK and Nicoletta Demetriou, Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK (Ashgate, October 2015) 

 

Music in Cyprus draws its authors from both sides of the divided island to give a rounded picture of musical culture from the beginning of the British colonial period (1878-1960) until today. The book crosses conventional scholarly divides between musicology and ethnomusicology in order to achieve a panorama of music, culture and politics. It is the first book to consider the different kinds of music found in Cyprus, and the first one to include Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, and international scholars.

For more information see http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409465737 

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