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Conference on the Music of South, Central, and West Asia Schedule

Conference on the Music of South, Central, and West Asia


UntitledHarvard University, March 4-6, 2016
Center for Government and International Studies building, South
1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA

This conference is a response to rapidly expanding interests in the musical traditions of South Asia within the Society for Ethnomusicology and a recognition that South Asia has always been part of a larger historical network involving Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.  As the richness of scholarship on the music of these regions deepens, it becomes increasingly useful to keep abreast of new scholarship in the larger geographical area.  This conference invites scholars working on the performing arts of all of these regions to come together for a weekend of dialogue and groundwork for future collaborations. We envision this conference to be a catalyst for future meetings and perhaps the foundation for a new independent scholarly organization. Rather than reinforcing our ties to particular geographic areas, we hope to broaden our knowledge and interests, attract scholars who may otherwise feel excluded, and encourage a dialogue that builds on shared histories across South, Central and West Asia. 

Cosponsored with the Department of Music, the Department of South Asian Studies, the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Islam in Asia Series, the Asia Center, and the Provostial Fund for Arts and Humanities.

The conference presentations are located according to panel:

Panel A: Room S010 Tsai Auditorium

Panel B: Room S020, Belfer Case Study Room

Panel C: Room S050, Seminar Room

Coffee and snacks will be provided in the concourse and/or the Lee Gathering Room (S030)

Registration packets as well as internet access to online registration will be available on site. Attendees are encouraged to preregister for the economy rate of $15 at:

ABSTRACTS: Click here to view and download abstracts.


Friday, March 4, 2016


3:30 pm Coffee, snacks (Lee Gathering Room or main concourse)

4:00 pm Welcome

Richard K. Wolf and conference organizers (Tsai auditorium)

4:15 – 5:35 pm PANEL 1 

Panel 1A: Jewish Music in West and Central Asia

Chair: Anna Schultz, Stanford University

Singing Pirkei Avot in Istanbul: Contemporary Modes of Performance and Transmission of a Para-Liturgical Synagogue Repertoire
Joseph Alpar, The Graduate Center, CUNY

South, Central, and West Asian Connections, Viewed through a Jewish Lens
Evan Rapport, The New School

Panel 1B: The Life of Sound Recordings

Chair: Peter McMurray, Harvard University

Blackbirds in the Archive: Genealogies of Voice in Georgian Gramophone Records
Brian Fairley, Wesleyan University

Indian Recordings on Wax Cylinder from the Berlin Phonogram Archive
Lars-Christian Koch, Ethnological Museum/Berlin Phonogram Archive/Cologne University

Panel 1C: Theory and Subjectivity in Sri Lanka

Chair: Charles Hallisey, Harvard University

Veiling the Global: Literary Language and Subjective Nationalism in Sinhala Radio Song of Sri Lanka, 1957-1964
Garrett Field, Ohio University

Theorists, Theories, and Ideologies: Contrasting Analytic Approaches to Sri Lankan Up-country Music by Four Postcolonial Sri Lankan Scholars
Eshantha Joseph Peiris, University of British Columbia

Dinner on your own

7:30-9:00 Concert: North Indian Classical Music: Dhrupad (Tsai Auditorium)

Free and open to the public

Pre-concert lecture: Singing at the Guru’s court. The dhrupad of the Gurbani kirtan tradition.  Francesca Cassio (Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology, Hofstra University, NY)

Concert artists: Francesca Cassio —Vocal and Tanpura; Parminder Singh Bhamra (Visiting Scholar, Hofstra University, NY)— Jori-Pakhawaj; Nirvair Kaur Khalsa (Montessori Khalsa School, Tucson)—Taus

Sunday March 6, 2016


8:30 – 9:00 Coffee

9:00 – 10:45 PANEL 5

Panel 5A: Islamicate Modernities

Chair: Michael Herzfeld (Harvard University)

Sufi Musical Heritage and the Case for a Post-9/11 Islamic Modernity
Muhammad Usman Malik, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan

Muslim Musicians and Music Reform: Visions of an Islamicate Musical Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century North India
Max Katz, The College of William and Mary

Baul-Fakir music in an Islamic context
Benjamin Krakauer, Temple University

Panel 5B: rafting music in Changing National and Colonial Contexts

Chair: Stephen Blum, CUNY Graduate Center

Regional Approaches to the Indigenization of Colonial Tunes in 19th and 20th Century British India
Kanniks Kannikeswaran, University of Cincinnati

Constructing the Saz: The “Stringed Qur’an” and Turkish Modernity
Peter McMurray, Harvard University

Politics, of course: Nationalism, Appropriation, and the Crafting New Identities
Miriam Tripaldi, University of Chicago

Panel 5C: Individual papers

Chair: Carol Babiracki, Syracuse University

Unsounded Music
Niko Higgins, Sarah Lawrence College

Performance, songs and (melo)drama in Hindi films
Anna Morcom, Royal Holloway, University of London

Women And Power In North India: A perspective on social performativity
Marianne-Sarah Saulnier, University of Montreal

10:45-11:45: SAPA Business meeting (All presenters welcome)

Agenda: Mission Statement, ICTM Study Group, Independent Society, Future meetings

11:45 – 1:00 Lunch (Lee Gathering Room)

1:30 – 3:50 PANEL 6 

Panel 6A Percussive Affects: Perspectives on Music, Theater and Ritual Across Central and South Asia

Chair: Eben Graves, Yale University

Sonic Storytelling: Percussive Footwork and Nritya in North Indian Kathak
Sarah Morelli, University of Denver

Talam/Kalam, Drumming, Emotion and Character in Kathakali, Kerala Dance-Drama
Rolf Groesbeck, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Sonic Iconography: The Damaru Drum’s Rhythmic Complements to Affective Visualizations in Tibetan gCod Rituals
Jeffrey Cupchik, Independent Scholar

Absorbing Rhythms: Processes of Musical Accompaniment and Emotional Immersion in Bengali Lila-Kirtan
Eben Graves, Yale University

Panel 6B:  Music in Contemporary Indian Film

Chair: Jayson Beaster-Jones, University of California, Merced

Antakshari in Maine Pyaar Kiya: Intertextual Pleasures and Musical Medleys at the Dawn of a New Era in Hindi Cinema
Peter Kvetko, Salem State University

Themes of Violence and Reconciliation: A.R. Rahman’s “Bombay Theme”
Jayson Beaster-Jones, University of California, Merced

Magic, Destruction, and Redemption in the Soundtracks of Aashiqui 2, RockStar, Rock On!!”
Natalie Sarrazin, The College at Brockport, SUNY

Tensions of Musical Re-animation from Bollywood to Indian Idol
Anaar Desai-Stephens, Cornell University

Panel 6C: Religion and music in Northeast India and the Panjab

Chair: Parimal Patil, Harvard University

Permeable Borders of Spirit: Hindu/Islamic Syncretism in Assamese Zikir
Utpola Borah, Ohio Arts Council

On the heels of musicians: congregational practices in the Manipuri Nat –Sankirtan
Debanjali Biswas, King’s College, London

A Voice without Singer: Sant Bhajan Musical Structure and Adaptability in Malwa, North India
Vivek Virani, UCLA

Time vistas: “Awe”-some technologies for ethical orientation in Sikh Sabad Kirtan
Inderjit N. Kaur, University of California, Berkeley

4:00-6:00: Open Jam Sessions

6:00: Guests depart

Saturday March 5, 2016


8:30-9:00 am Coffee Break

9:00 – 10:45 PANEL 2 

Panel 2A: Mobility, Agency and Modernity in Central and South Asia

Chair: Matthew Allen, Wheaton College

Making it in Modernity:  Sustainability and Vernacular Music Professionals
Carol Babiracki, Syracuse University

In Search of the Mythical Courtesan: Modernity, Beauty, and Affective Labor in South India
Rumya Putcha, Texas A&M University

Musical Mobilities in the Post-Soviet World
Brigita Sebald, California State University

Panel 2B: Music and poetry in South and Central Asia

Chair: Warren Senders, Khyal singer, composer, New England Conservatory of Music/Tufts University

The Prophet David’s Second Miracle: Verse Singing in Mughal and Safavid Literary Salons
Nathan Tabor, Western Michigan University

Poetics and Performance: The Intersection of Text and Music in Thumri

Hans Utter, Ohio Arts Council

A Bird Needs Two Wings to Fly: Relationship Between Music and Poetry in Azerbaijani Mugham
Polina Dessiatnitchenko, University of Toronto

Panel 2C: Geographies of diaspora in South and Central Asia

Chair: Peter Manuel, CUNY Graduate Center and John Jay College

“The sun never sets on the Maihar gharānā“:  Dynamics of Power and Knowledge in Hindustani Classical Instrumental Music
Eva-Maria Alexandra Van Straaten, Georg August University Göttingen

Changing Contexts for Indian Music and Ritual: South Asian Music in the American Diaspora
Brita Renee Heimarck, Boston University

In a State of Belief: Korean Church Performance in Kazakhstan
Margarethe Adams, SUNY Stony Brook        

10:45 – 11:00 coffee break (Lee Gathering Room or main concourse)

11:00 -12:10 PANEL 3 

Panel 3A: Afghan Music in Transnational perspectives

Chair: Robbie Beahrs, University of Pittsburgh

The Strings of Identity: Dambura, Hazaras and Transnational Ethnic Awareness
Mathieu Poitras, University of Ottawa

Escaping the Violence: Afghan Musical Culture in the Fremont Diaspora
Michael Lindsey, University of California, Santa Cruz

Panel 3B: Musical Instruments and Cultural Production in Post-Soviet Central Asia

Chair: Theodore Levin, Dartmouth College

The Cry of the Tanbur: Strategic Self-Representation  at the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments in Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Katie Freeze, Brown University

Ecology, Economy and Musical Instrument Making in Late and Post-Soviet Inner Asia
Jennifer Post, University of Arizona

Panel 3C: Reviving the Sound, Sentiments, and Melodies of the Aramaic chants in India (Film, 45 min.)

Joseph Palackal, Christian Musicological Society of India

12:10-1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 3:15 PANEL 4

Panel 4A: The Sindhi Connection: Shrines, Poetics, and (Ethical) Performance from Kachchh to the Gulf of Makran

Chair: Brian Bond, CUNY Graduate Center

Musical Rendering of Poetic-Metrical Resources in Faqīr Performances of Ganj-e-Latīf
Pei-ling Huang, Harvard University

Lives of a Fatwā: Sufism, Islamic Reform, and Ethical Audition in Kachchh, Gujarat
Brian Bond, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Baloch Dammal in South Asian Relief (as articulated in Muscat)
George Mürer, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Panel 4B: Claiming Musical Authorship, Anonymity, and Ownership in Turkey and Mongolia

Chair: Dave Fossum, Brown University

Forensic Folklore: Determining Anonymity and Authorship in Turkey’s Folk Music Industry
Dave Fossum, Brown University

Music in the Intersections between Communal Belonging and the Nation-state
Sonia Seeman, University of Texas, Austin

The Birthplace of Mongol Xöömeí or  Throat-singing : Claiming Strategies, Cultural Branding, and Proprietary Concepts in Chandman  District, Western Mongolia
Andrew Colwell, Wesleyan University

Panel 4C: Sakthi Vibrations (Film, 80 min.)

Zoe Sherinian, University of Oklahoma

3:13 – 3:30 Coffee Break (Lee Gathering Room or main concourse)

3:30-5:00 Keynote Lecture: Working with Musics of Three Adjacent Regions

Stephen Blum, CUNY Graduate Center

Respondent: Richard K. Wolf

5:00-7:00: Reception

7:30-9:00 Concert: Sirojiddin Juraev: dutar, tanbur and sato

National Conservatory and Academy of Maqam, Dushanbe;

Fulbright scholar, Music Department, Harvard University