Connected Histories & Synoptic Methods: Music and Colonial Transitions in South and Southeast Asia
'Musical Transitions to European Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean' is a large-scale European Research Council project (2011–15) that seeks to produce a history of the transitions of musical cultures and soundscapes from early-modern to colonial regimes in India, Sri Lanka and the Malay world. In the final conference of the project, we aim to establish the ways in which our findings over the past four years contribute to an interconnected understanding of eastern Indian Ocean sonic cultures in the context both of widespread colonial interventions in the region and of the constellation of new technologies and ideas simultaneous with colonialism that have come to constitute the 'modern'. We hope to formulate a synthetic historiographical framework for connecting and comparing the effects of European colonialism on musical transitions within and between South and Southeast Asia, one that has relevance to histories of the wider Indian Ocean as an interregional space. In particular, we wish to elucidate both similarities and differences in the ways in which the peoples across this region appropriated and resisted European influences while engaging in new modes of cosmopolitan living and anti-colonial resistance.
As we approach the end of the 'Musical Transitions' project, team members will have the opportunity to reflect collectively and comparatively on the huge amount of data gathered, research conducted, and questions asked, reframed and addressed. Our original hypotheses have been tested and tempered by archival realities—an embarrassment of riches in India, a relative paucity of vernacular and visual sources in the Malay world—and our areas and focuses of inquiry consequentially altered. But the original ambition—to produce a new connective methodological framework in and through which to analyse the musical history of this vast region—remains our guiding principle as we enter the final stages of this research.
The 'Connected Histories' conference prompts us to evaluate the nature of connections across this region and time period in a variety of modes and along multiple, overlapping axes: time; space; multiple languages and musical literatures; genre and ensemble; travel and circulation; borrowing, mixing and adaptation; lineages and economies both social and epistemological; the local and localities; alternative historical modes; community and identity; sonic power and auditory history; progress and modernity; and the notion of the paracolonial. This list does not aspire to be a comprehensive description; we are certain that conference participants will have perspectives that challenge and/or supplement these. Yet we offer them as initial suggestions or prompts to us all to think about how we might approach the crucial methodological challenges of this conference; and as only several among many ways we might think through the problematic of a diverse, connected ethnomusicological history of the region and period. For this is one of the wider questions of the project: to ask what a genuinely ethnomusicological historical method should look like.
Date: 10–11 April 2015
Venue: Council Room (K2.29), King’s Building, Strand Campus, King’s College London
Attendance Fee: £25 (waged), £15 (student)
Registration Deadline: 27 March 2015
Contact: Mrs Angela Waplington (project administrator) firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to register and pay for the conference. Please note that the deadline for registration is 27 March 2015, and that fees once paid cannot be refunded.
Barbara Andaya (University of Hawai’i)
Julia Byl (King's College London)
Raja Iskandar Bin Raja Halid (Universiti Malaysia Kelantan/King’s College London)
David R M Irving (Australian National University)
Max Katz (College of William and Mary)
Ustad Irfan Muhammad Khan (Afghanistan National Institute of Music)
James Kippen (University of Toronto)
David Lunn (King's College London)
Jenny McCallum (King's College London)
Allyn Miner (Universityof Pennsylvania)
Ronit Ricci (Australian National University)
Katherine Butler Schofield (King's College London)
Davesh Soneji (McGill University)
Jim Sykes (University of Pennsylvania)
Shzr Ee Tan (Royal Holloway,University of London)
Margaret Walker (Queen's University, Ontario)
Richard David Williams (King's College London)
Please download the conference programme and conference abstracts.