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: (Fiorella Montero Diaz)

Older news are in news archive.

We are delighted to announce that a total of four fieldwork grants have been awarded for the 2019 BFE Fieldwork Grant Awards scheme. We offer huge congratulations to Graihagh Cordwell, Alice Rose, Chrysi Kyratsou and Jaana Serres, who are the 2019 grant recipients. The winners introduce their exciting and diverse research projects below, and we look forward to hearing more about their work when they return from the field.

Graihagh Cordwell (St John's College Oxford)

My project focuses on the role of musical activities of Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, a camp established in 2012 as an emergency response to those fleeing the Syrian civil war, but now home to over 80,000 Syrian refugees. Notwithstanding difficult in-camp conditions, musical activities abound, ranging from private music making in the home to the digital download of music on mobile devices, and myriad music projects implemented by humanitarian organisations. My research will examine the multiple uses and functions of these musical practices and their significance for refugees in Zaatari. I also explore the place of humanitarianism and music in the camp, the advantages and implications of music projects implemented by humanitarian actors, and how those actors might provide effective and sensitive in-camp musical opportunities. More broadly, I aim to understand what music can reveal about the Syrian refugee experience and the protracted socio-cultural effects of the Syrian conflict.


Alice Rose (St Hilda's College Oxford)

My project focuses on the relationship between digital technologies and the production and consumption of Japanese Idol Pop, or JPop. My fieldwork will take me to the Kansai region of Japan, where I will research the online and offline practises of fans of two specific Japanese bands: NMB48 (the Namba-based sister group of the internationally famous AKB48) and Sekai No Owari, a more ‘alternative’ contemporary idol group. From online chatrooms and subscription mailing services to wotagei (ritualised chanting and dancing) and mimetic amateur performances, JPop fans exist in a hyper-technological consumer society, and yet place immense value on experiencing this music locally, tangibly and co-presently. Through this project, I hope to explore the overlap between the offline & the online, the material & the digital, and the local & the global. 



Chrysi Kyratsou (Queen's University Belfast)

My project explores the musicking that takes places in refugee reception centres in Athens, Greece. Refugee reception centres are liminal places: placed on the ground of the potentially host society, yet their residents excluded from it. They are places contested, highly informed not only by the politics implemented, but by their residents’ cultures that are brought to coexist in precariousness, and the opposing poles of stability (due to the protracted stay) and mobility.

I’m interested in understanding the meanings embedded in certain musical practices, as well as the various encounters that may take place within this context. Focusing on musicking I look at the ways refugees’ aesthetic agencies are informed by their shifting backgrounds in which they live, and how they shape their sociality. I wish to provide insights in the refugees’ interactions and shaping relationships around various forms of musicking with refugees of different cultural background, or between them and people from the host society (present and active in reception centres, as volunteers, teachers, etc.), as they are waiting for their possible relocation. I’m particularly interested in figuring out the potential for multiple inclusions that participation in musicking may entail.




Jaana Serres (St Anne's College Oxford)

My research looks at the Nigerian music boom that has created a new wave of positive identification with Nigeria, and the African continent generally, in the past decade. The Nigerian music industry has benefitted from the development of digital technology and the expression of corporate interest by telecom companies, retail brands, and investment funds, thus making it an exemplary manifestation of a new pan-Africanism founded on private investment, or ‘Africapitalism’. Music entrepreneurship is flourishing in Lagos, embedded in a neoliberal discourse that postulates the branded self as a force that can performatively transform its circumstances and contribute to changing Africa’s place-in-the-world. My research will examine the interplay of individual, corporate, and collective aspirations in this attempt to overcome victimising narratives via commercial artistic practices. It will hopefully expand the discussion of the commodification of African culture from the issue of authenticity and reification to questions of agency, hope, and performativity.

We are delighted to share the news that BFE Member Dr. Moshe Morad and Dr. Amalia Ran’s edited volume “Mazal Tov Amigos! Jews and Popular Music in the Americas”, has won at SEM this year’s inaugural Jewish Music Special Interest Group Paper Prize. Addressing the winners, Prof. Michael Figueroa, Associate Director, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced:

“The award committee felt that your work deserved the prize for a number of reasons, not least because of the many ways it pushes the field of Jewish music studies to engage with the conceptual frameworks offered by hemispheric studies. The diversity of case studies and scholarly voices included in the book are especially notable. We are grateful for your contribution to Jewish music studies. Thank you for sharing your intellectual and your label with the Jewish music studies community.”

Dr. Michael Figouera presenting the Jewish Music Studies SIG award to Dr. Moshe Morad at SEM 2018 in Albuquerque.

The BFE Student Prize for 2018 recognises an outstanding paper presented by a student at this year’s BFE Annual Conference, hosted by the University of Newcastle, 12-15 April 2018. We are delighted to award the prize to Katie Young (Royal Holloway, University of London) whose paper is described below. We would also like to thank everyone who submitted a paper this year, and all BFE student members are encouraged to submit papers for next year’s conference at the University of Aberdeen in 2019.

Katie Young – ‘“If You Know Arabic, Indian Songs Are Easy For You”: Hindi Film Songs and the mawlid in Tamale, Northern Ghana.’

This very well researched ethnographic paper provides fascinating insights into memory and pedagogy in Hindi film reception in cinema halls post-1957 by African Muslim audiences in Tamale, Northern Ghana. Young examines how modes of listening learned in Qur’anic schools have affected active response to Hindi film in terms of audition and recitation.  The memorisation of both Arabic religious texts and Hindi songs are revealed to have meanings not associated directly with context but rather with the act of sounding and re-sounding these texts. Young’s original primary research undertaken in 2016 and 2017 on the adaptation of Hindi song melodies in Tamale’s Islamic schools demonstrates how mawlid praises in Arabic have been set to well known Hindi film songs, a practice her interviewees describe as natural due to the similarities of the two non-native languages and the timbral and decorative vocal styles of both the call to prayer and Hindi film song performance.

Young makes a powerful contribution to a range of fields including the study of Islam, linguistics, music learning, (post)colonialism, and South-South cultural flows. Most importantly, through this paper Katie Young suggests an innovative approach to ‘listening’ that combines pedagogy with pleasure and religious doctrine with popular culture, in ways that challenge longstanding boundaries within our research fields. The original and imaginative paper brings together a thorough historical account with lively first-hand descriptions, also supported by very illustrative audio-visual extracts.

This paper makes a valuable contribution to the discipline, and is a pleasure to read.


Dr Fiorella Montero-Diaz (Chair BFE Student Prize Panel)

Dr Sue Miller

Dr Ioannis Tsioulakis


Congratulations to BFE member Frances Wilkins, who has released a new book publication in the SOAS Musicology Series called Singing The Gospel Along Scotland's North-East Coast, 1859-2009 (Routledge 2018). This volume will be of interest to anyone with an interest in various aspects of ethnomusicology, including sacred singing traditions, congregational singing, Scottish ethnology, hymnody, group singing. music and revival, history of Scottish music in worship. 

Frances will be officially launching the book during the BFE annual conference in Newcastle in April 2018, and further details about the book (including a link to purchase the volume in both Hardback and eBook formats) follow below. Well done Frances!

Frances Wilkins, Singing The Gospel Along Scotland's North-East Coast, 1859-2009, Routledge, SOAS Musicology Series, 2018

Following three years of ethnomusicological fieldwork on the sacred singing traditions of evangelical Christians in North-East Scotland and Northern Isles coastal communities, Frances Wilkins documents and analyses current singing practices in this book by placing them historically and contemporaneously within their respective faith communities. In ascertaining who the singers were and why, when, where, how and what they chose to sing, the study explores a number of related questions. How has sacred singing contributed to the establishment and reinforcement of individual and group identities both in the church and wider community? What is the process by which specific regional repertoires and styles develop? Which organisations and venues have been particularly conducive to the development of sacred singing in the community? How does the subject matter of songs relate to the immediate environment of coastal inhabitants? How and why has gospel singing in coastal communities changed? 

These questions are answered with comprehensive reference to interview material, fieldnotes, videography and audio field recordings. As one of the first pieces of ethnomusicological research into sacred music performance in Scotland, this ethnography draws important parallels between practices in the North East and elsewhere in the British Isles and across the globe.


Following last year's call for applications to the BFE Fieldwork Grant Awards scheme, we are delighted to announce that a total of four fieldwork grants have been awarded for 2018. Once again, the standard of applications was extremely high. We offer huge congratulations to Sara Selleri, Georgette Nummelin, Gabrielle Messeder and Soosan Lolavar, who are the 2018 grant recipients. The winners introduce their exciting research projects below, and we look forward to hearing more about their work when they return from the field.

Sara Selleri (SOAS, University of London)

My research explores dynamics of inclusion, representation and discrimination in society at large and within higher education music institutions and curricula in Puerto Rico. I look at how music transmission practices and academic institutions can be a product of the socio-cultural background they operate in, and how historically constructed and culturally inherited factors such as internalized colonization, gender discrimination etc. play an important part in determining “which music” or “whose music” is taught and recognized a higher status in academia and society. I’m interested in uncovering where there are correspondences or differentiations in such interrelationships, questioning the repercussions one has on the other in (re)constructing and perpetrating present discriminations of historically excluded groups, both in society and in music.


Gabrielle Messeder (City, University of London)

I'm researching contemporary practices of Brazilian music and dance in Lebanon. Focussing primarily on the genres of samba, bossa nova and música popular brasileira (MPB), I aim to trace their development from the bossa-influenced sound of recordings by Fairouz and Ziad Rahbani in the 1970s to the bands and blocos that perform in Lebanon today. I'll explore the unique, ambivalent and sometimes contested space that the performance of Brazilian music by both Brazilian and non-Brazilian performers occupies in the cosmopolitan Lebanese musical milieu, and discuss how issues of cultural conservatism, exoticism and stereotyping shape the production, performance and reception of Brazilian music and dance in Lebanon today.



Georgette Nummelin (SOAS, University of London)

My project explores how contemporary music can be used to support the maintenance and revitalisation of Ainu language and identity. My fieldwork will take me to Japan to engage with professional and amateur performers and composers, and with the diverse audiences that engage with the music. Additionally, I will be engaging with Ainu language learners of both Ainu and non-Ainu heritage. The aim of my research is to draw on these participants’ experience of learning, creating and performing contemporary Ainu identity through music and language, and to document how these practices can affect the revitalisation of cultural traditions and the Ainu language.





Soosan Lolavar (City, University of London)

My research brings together the methodologies of composition and ethnomusicology to explore a new movement in music in Iran in which musicians and composers combine aspects of Iranian classical music with ideas more commonly associated with Western music. My work will present both a written ethnography and portfolio of compositions considering the creative, social and political effects of drawing from these two forms, particularly against the backdrop of a post-revolutionary Iran in which objects of Western culture are often associated with the imperialism and colonialism.