BFE Fieldwork Award Winners 2019

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.