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The 2021 BFE Fieldwork Grants scheme is now open! Any student enrolled on a PhD programme at a university in the UK who is conducting ethnomusicological research can submit an application. We look forward to hearing about your projects!
Applications must be submitted online, via the BFE website, by the end of Monday 14th December 2019: you can find out more details about the competition and how to apply on the BFE Fieldwork Grants page.

It gives us great pleasure to announce that two fieldwork grants have been awarded for the 2020 BFE Fieldwork Grants scheme. Hearty congratulations are due to Yara Salahiddeen and Dunya Habash, who are the 2020 grant recipients. The winners introduce their innovative research projects below, and we look forward to hearing more about their work when they return from the field.

Yara Salahiddeen (Magdalen College Oxford) - Cultural Politics of Tarab: Music and Social Change during Egypt’s Nahda

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a vibrant cultural and intellectual movement developed across the Arab world known as the Nahda, often translated as the renaissance. My project examines the musical Nahda that transformed the soundscape of Egypt from the 1860s to the 1920s, and its connections with the period’s intense socio-political transformations. I investigate the affective and political impact of various musical forms on modern subjectivities of the time, as well as on wider discourses around the role of culture. Crucial to this soundscape was the social and musical phenomenon of tarab, which is often described as musical ecstasy but notoriously evades clear definition. I hope to clarify the aesthetic system and societal role of tarab during this period in particular. I am especially interested in the cultural semiotics that formed its practice, and how these were encoded and decoded through the sung taqtuqa and compound form of wasla.


Dunya Habash (St. Edmund's College Cambridge) - Syrian musicians and their 'emplacement' into Turkish society

My ethnographic research with Syrian musicians in Turkey examines the effects of ‘integration’ on music-making and more generally on Syrian cultural practices and imaginaries post-displacement. I am exploring how Syrian musicians, those who fled Syria after 2011 and settled in Turkey, place themselves and how they use music to belong to an ideational community in exile. When individuals are forced to leave their homes instead of consciously choosing to enter the diaspora, an accompanying inquiry is whether there are new constraints—be they political, economic, or social—that affect the way agents embed themselves in a new society and reconstruct their lives and identities? Rather than focusing on the ways in which Syrian music is transforming in displacement, I plan an innovative cross-disciplinary investigation of how Syrian musicians as agents embed themselves in their new homelands where changes in performance practice, physical space, and cultural norms must be accounted for. I hypothesize that the Syrian cultural imaginary is shifting as a result of ‘emplacement’ into Turkish society, and that this shift can be illustrated through musical practices. Investigating and analysing how Syrian musicians in Turkey—and displacement more generally—emplace themselves and how they use music to belong to an ideational community can give fresh insights into the relationship between structural forces and inner subjectivities.

We invite you to a virtual launch of Ioannis Tsioulakis' exciting new book 'Musicians in Crisis: Working and Playing in the Greek Popular Music Industry'. This online book launch will take place on Saturday 7th November at 6pm GMT, as part of the BFE One-day Online Conference Ethnomusicology and Music Enterprise in Catastrophic Times.
The event will be presented by the Chair of the BFE, Dr Simon McKerrell, in conversation with the author and with questions from the online audience. This event is free and everyone is welcome, but prior registration is advised - to register, click here. We look forward to seeing you there!

Registration for the 2020 BFE One-day Conference is now open! This year's One-day Conference is scheduled to take place online via Zoom on Saturday 7th November, and will be hosted by the University of Lincoln. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.

The committee for the upcoming BFE-RMA Research Students’ Conference to be held at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge (12–14 January 2021), have decided to extend the deadline for call for proposals given the continued uncertainty around the pandemic. The new deadline will be the 12th October 2020. Please see the attached call for proposals for guidelines on submissions. If you have any questions, please contact:

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 BFE One-day Conference will take place online on Saturday 7th November 2020, and will be hosted by the University of Lincoln. The deadline for paper and panel proposals is 5pm UK time on 14th August 2020, and the Call for Papers can be found here:

We are thrilled to announce that the 2020 BFE Book Prize is awarded to Benjamin Tausig for his 2019 book Bangkok is Ringing: Sound, Protest, and Constraint (New York: OUP). The 2020 Book Prize Panel - Ioannis Tsioulakis (Chair), Britta Sweers and Jonathan Stock - noted that Benjamin's book "is superbly written—it turns its own pages—and admirably represents the best new writing in ethnomusicology today". The Commendation for the 2020 competition goes to Angela Impey for her 2018 book Song Walking: Women, Music, and Environmental Justice in an African Borderland (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press). The panel noted that Song Walking is "a beautifully composed book" and stated that it "addresses key issues in today’s world, including women’s rights, environmental access and the inequities of conservation practices and rhetorics." Huge congratulations to Benjamin and Angela! And many thanks to everyone who submitted, and to our 2020 Book Prize Panel for their hard work in judging the many excellent submissions for our 2020 competition. To read more about both winners and their fantastic monographs, visit the BFE Book Prize page on our website.

Regretfully, owing to the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation, Bath Spa University has been forced to cancel all its events in March and April. The decision has very reluctantly been made, therefore, to postpone the BFE annual conference on ‘Music, Culture and Nature’ to April 2021: same theme, same place. The exact dates will follow soon. All accepted delegates for BFE2020 will be eligible to present in 2021. An extended call for papers for BFE2021 will be announced in the summer.

Are you a student who has been accepted to present a paper at the BFE’s 2020 conference at Bath Spa University and a member of the BFE? If so, you are eligible for one of a limited number of bursaries to help defray the costs of attending, comprising a subsidy of up to £100. If you wish to apply, please send the following information to by the 28th February:


Title of conference paper as accepted

Whether you are a member of the BFE (at the time of applying for the bursary)

Degree programme, institution, and year of study

Place traveling from

Projected costs for travel, accommodation, and registration, with brief details


We will be allocating bursaries on needs basis, depending on location, projected costs etc. We look forward to receiving your applications!

Visit our conference reports page to view a vibrant new report by Rashel Pakbaz, featuring images taken by Gerard Giorgi-Coll.