BFE Fieldwork Award Winners 2023

We are delighted to announce our 2023 award recipients from the BFE Fieldwork Grants scheme. Warm congratulations to this year’s winners, Javier Rivas, Shreya Ila Anasuya, and Boris Wong. Each of the submitted proposals had impressive strengths, but the difficult task of choosing just three applicants was made on the basis of their well-conceived and clear presentation of the research and proposed fieldwork. We look forward to reading their fieldwork reports on completion. The recipients describe their research projects below. Many thanks to our 2023 Fieldwork Grants Scheme prize panel: Evanthia Patsiaoura, Hettie Malcomson, and Fiorella Montero Diaz (chair).

Javier Rivas (King's College London)

Calls for academic change have been ubiquitous in recent decades, which has given rise to a number of initiatives that aim to address overlooked narratives and open academic spaces to marginalized voices. In institutions of higher music education, reform has often been slow and met with resistance by proponents and upholding structures of the conservatoire system. My doctoral research explores the case of the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (Catalonia School of Music, hereafter “Esmuc”), a music institution created with the specific purpose of providing an alternative model to the conservatoire system—a model that allows for different musical traditions and disciplines to coexist and come together. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research at the Esmuc, my research considers the teaching and managerial strategies deployed to encourage academic change. In particular, I direct attention toward those practices that are not always framed conceptually and linguistically in a music theory corpus, and that often “go without saying”. How willing are individuals to listen to other musical milieus? And to what extent are their listening practices conditioned by the physical and social environment of the school? Indeed, are students and teachers even able to listen? As I explore the everyday life of an institution in flux like the Esmuc, the aural emerges as a key aspect to understand the relationship between the actions of individuals and their social structures.

Shreya Ila Anasuya (King's College London)

Using historiography, this project seeks to examine and understand narratives by and about feminine performers of Hindustani music between 1902 and 1952 in India. The project locates itself in the colonial cities of Calcutta and Bombay, both major centres for the performing arts, and opportunities for performers to participate in new spaces ushered in by technology and changing sociopolitical contexts, including the recording studio, the proscenium theatre, the concert stage, and the film set.

Fieldwork will take place largely in India (Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune), and in the UK (London, Cambridge). 



Boris Wong (SOAS)

My dissertation research addresses the issue of how and why the military and display band practices first developed in European nations have been adapted and localized by postcolonial nations in East and Southeast Asia. Much intertwined with the Western imperial histories, military bands have often been interpreted by Western scholars as symbols of colonial power and authority. This project explores how these dominant ideologies and metaphorical associations attached to the band have been adapted, negotiated, and subverted in postcolonial Asia. I take the wind band music-making scene of Singapore as a case study to look at how this collective musical practice, with its many manifestations including military and police bands, marching bands, and school display bands, has been involved in the social and cultural formations of Singapore’s nation-building. Informed by postcolonial and decolonial theories as well as approaches from performance studies, this project understands the military and display band not only as a strategic site for embodying and manifesting Singapore’s political ideologies and aspirations, but also as a socio-political agent for negotiating and constructing the nation’s postcolonial and cosmopolitan identities.