EuroSEAS 2019

dr. meLê yamomo is convening a double panel, entitled, “Sonic Entanglements: Sound, Archive, and Acoustic Historiographies in Southeast Asia” at the EuroSEAS (European Association for Southeast Asian Studies) Conference to be held at the Humboldt University of Berlin on 10-13 September 2019. The double panel will is composed of scholars working on the topic of sound history in Southeast Asia from interdisciplinary perspectives:

Barbara Titus (Musicology, University of Amsterdam)
Bart Barendregt (Anthropology, Leiden University)
Citra Aryandari (Musicology, Institut Seni Indonesia Yogyakarta)
Jose Buenconsejo (Musicology, University of the Philippines-Diliman)
Rameses de Jesus (Psychology, University of the Philippines)
Sri Margana (History and Archeology, Universitas Gadjah Mada)
Vincent Kuitenbrouwer (History, University of Amsterdam)

Further information about the conference and the panel can be read on the EuroSEAS website.

Call for Paper »Sonic Entanglements: Sound, Archive, and Acoustic Historiographies in the Asia Pacific«

Convenors: meLê yamomo and Barbara Titus (University of Amsterdam)
In partnership with Harry van Biessum (Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision)

9 September | 10:00-17:00 | Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Hilversum 10 September | 10:00-15:00 | Potgieterzaal, University Library, University of Amsterdam

Photo Credit: “Bestuursambtenaren in een huis met een grammofoon op tafel, vermoedelijk op Lombok”, From the KITLV Collection

Description of the Program

This workshop invites historians, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, performance scholars, acoustic engineers, sound artists, and sound/media professionals working on/in the Asia Pacific sound history to provide a space for interdisciplinary theoretical and practical knowledge-sharing. In addition to the possibility of inviting scholars mentioned above, archivists and programmers of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Vienna Phonogram Archive, and the Jaap Kunst Collection will also bring in their practical expertise. Many of the extant sound recordings from the region are stored in these archives. 

By bringing together experts from different disciplines and geographic specializations, this workshop intends to bring into conversation the interstices of currently nation-framed sound historiography to reflect on transregional/translocal discourses on the issue. Geared towards the conversations on the history of sound beyond its euphonic understandings in the region, this workshop also aims to explore the intersections of current scholarships from various disciplinary perspectives.

Workshop Themes

Sound studies and sound history now asserts itself as a crucial discipline, yet Mark Smith (2004) noted the absence of historical work on non-Western sounds, and Veit Erlmann (2004) raises the lack of “current debates of Third World scholars interested in auditory perception.” This panel brings into conversation cultural historians, musicologists, and sound scholars working on sound history, epistemologies of listening, and theoretical ontologies of the sound archives about SEA. The panel critiques Benedict Anderson’s (1991) notion of modernity built on print capitalism and engages sound history in exploring acoustemology (acoustic epistemology) as a decolonial methodology in understanding SEA modernities. This is critical if we are to consider that in the colonial territories, less than ten percent were literate to the printed language (Ricklefs et al. 2010, Nathan 1922). Thus, this print illiteracy is used to justify the absence of subaltern’ voices’ in modern historiography. Taking this into consideration, the workshop will address three overarching themes:

Acoustic Mobilities. What paradigmatic shifts transpired with the reconfiguration of new modes of mobilities and communication technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? In rethinking early sound historiographies of SEA, how do we account for the social lives of human laborers, socio-cultural actors, and sound objects migrating to different regions, nations, and institutions in Southeast Asia?

Sonic Knowledge. How did the early sound recordings constitute and construct knowledges and understandings of modernities in SEA: i.e. ‘modern’ race epistemologies, notions of modern state (and/or urban) institutions and citizenship, and the emergence of a transnational cultural/media industry? How did the materiality of the early sound technologies mediate sonic discourses of global modernities among communities in the SEA? How do we take into account the mediality and the aesthetics generated through these media as the very epistemes of SEA modernities?

Listening Societies/Communities. How did listening constitute the imagined (trans)national and translocal communities in SEA? What theoretical tools and methodologies can we employ to better understand these transregional conditions and processes? In working with nation-based sound archives: How do we engage the materials that are stored in archives of the different post-imperial centers and peripheries, and on the other hand, documents catalogued in different languages of the postcolonial societies and previous colonizers? Furthermore, how do we deal with the challenges in the limits of their institutional and ‘ownership’ policies?


All working papers will be pre-circulated internally among the workshop participants. This way, participants would have the chance to read each other’s work in-depth prior to the workshop. A respondent will be assigned to comment on the paper, and to initiate the discussion. The program will also include an archival tour of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and the Jaap Kunst Collection at the Institute for Music Studies at the University of Amsterdam.


Interested participants who would like to participate may submit a working title and a short abstract (150 words) on or before 15 July. The working paper is due on 5 August. For inquiries and abstract submission, please email meLê yamomo at info [at]

A limited number of seats are also available for observers. To attend the workshop as observer, please contact the organizers at info [at] Please indicate which dates (9, 10 September or both) of the workshop you would like to come.

This workshop is co-organized by the “Sonic Entanglements” Research Project, the University of Amsterdam-Musicology Department, the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision, the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies, and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.

[Symposium] »Pathways of Performativity in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art«

27-28 June 2019
Haus der Kunst, München

The two days international symposium “Pathways of Performativity in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art” casts a spotlight on the fascinating histories of performance practices which speak to the postcolonial, Cold War and politico-economic forces that have shaped Southeast Asia after the Second World War. It brings together renowned scholars and curators from the disciplines of art history, film and theatre studies, whose work explores the central role of performance in bridging the visual arts, theatre, dance, music and political activism in the region from the 1960s to the present.

The symposium is accompanied by the launch of the exhibition “Southeast Asia Performance Collection”, conceived as part of the series ‘Archives in Residence’ in Haus der Kunst’s Archive Gallery. It presents photographs, videos and archival materials from the pioneering ‘Southeast Asia Performance Collection’, an expansive research project and digital archive compiled by an international team of researchers and curators in the UK and Asia between 2015 and 2017. This archive currently contains documentation of performance-based works such as live art, urban and social interventions, by over fifty artists from across Southeast Asia and its diasporas. The exhibition presents a selection of these materials for the first time in Germany, and explores the relationship between performativity and digital exchanges, networks and virtual preservation across Southeast Asia. Bringing the ideas behind the symposium and exhibition to life will be a curated program of live performances by internationally-acclaimed Southeast Asian artists. 

The symposium is collaboratively run and generously supported by the Goethe-Institut. It is organised by Dr. Eva Bentcheva (Goethe-Institut Postdoctoral Fellow at Haus der Kunst), in consultation with Annie Jael Kwan (independent curator and founding director of Something Human). The ‘Southeast Asia Performance Collection’ was conceived by Something Human, and is currently accessible at the Live Art Development Agency in London, UK.

Sonic Entanglements Project Director, meLê yamomo will speak at the conference on the topic: “Performing Epistemic Disobediences in Manila and Southeast Asia? Decolonial Possibilities in José Maceda’s Udlot-udlot and Ugnayan”.

See the Event Page on the Haus der Kunst website for more information.

[Conference] »Embodied Histories – Entangled Communities. Southeast Asian and Western Approaches to Narratives and Performance Art«

Jun 13, 2019 – Jun 14, 2019
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin 

The conference seeks to open up new perspectives on storytelling, narrativisations of history and their embodiment in performative arts and practices in Southeast Asia. Central questions are how, in very different ways, these practices offer new potentials to be presented, understood and collected, and how diverse audiences are mobilised by performative arts in relation to the conditions of community building inside and outside the realm of cultural institutions.

Contemporary performance art is characterised by hybridity, non-linear temporalities, cross-media connections, and the social contexts of various (art) histories. In addition to performance practices and modes of presentation, the entangled mythologies, literary narratives and political histories of Southeast Asia and the West also exert an influence on the embodied knowledge in the social communities concerned.

The conference “Embodied Histories – Entangled Communities” discusses selected examples of performative practices as well as historical and classical narratives with a special focus on blind spots in traditional historiography, which become performatively embodied and thus tangible. These include the consequences of colonialism and modernity, the contingent political and cultural conditions in different regions, but also alternative perspectives capable of promoting the deconstruction and decentralisation of the canon in question.

Acting on this set of assumptions, the conference asks about the curatorial, scholarly and institutional implications of these practices: How can performance art and performative artistic and social practices in cultural institutions be collected, archived, exhibited, reflected on, mediated or transformed? What role do narrative strategies play in mediating knowledge and experience? How can performative and curatorial practices be combined? What can cultural institutions learn from narrative and performative practices related to their diverse audiences? Can stereotypical patterns of hegemonic narratives be unlearned, and which new experiences are generated in the process? How can these artistic practices be used to reach, transform or even constitute diverse communities?

Sonic Entanglements Project Director, meLê yamomo will speak about his recent performance  »Echoing Europe: Postcolonial Reverberations« at the conference.

Please see the conference website for more information.

Photo: Korakrit Arunanondchai with boychild, Alex Gvojic and Michael Potvin, with history in a room filled with people with funny names 4, Performance, Kiasma, Helsinki, 2017, Image Credit: © Petri Virtanen

Sense and Sensibilities, Aesthetics and Ethics: Thinking and Sensing (Aesth)Ethics in Southeast Asian Colonial Theatre

In celebration of its 60th year, the University of the Philippines’ Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts launches its lecture series featuring faculty members, scholars, experts, and practitioners from the Philippines and abroad whose research or creative projects revolve around speech communication, theatre arts, and performance studies.

The fourth lecture will be delivered by dr. meLê yamomo with the title, Sense and Sensibilities, Aesthetics and Ethics: Thinking and Sensing (Aesth)Ethics in Southeast Asian Colonial Theatre. See you on the 26th of March, 2019, 10AM at Pavilion 1131, Pavilion 1, University of the Philippines Diliman. This event is free and open to the public, especially to researchers interested in performance and theatre.

»Sounding Modernities« : Philippine Book Launch and Lecture

You are cordially invited to the Philippine launch of dr. meLê yamomo’s book, »Sounding Modernities: Theatre and Music in Manila and the Asia Pacific, 1869-1946« on 21 February at the University of the Philippines Diliman-College of Music.

As part of the Musikolokya, dr. yamomo will give a lecture about his proposed theory of the Anthropology of Sound and discuss this within the context of nineteenth-century theatre and musical practices in Manila and the Asia Pacific. Together with Prof. Jose Buenconsejo , he will also conduct a graduate workshop at the UP Museum of Musical Instruments following the book launch. (Please see the poster below for time and schedule)

A limited number of discounted copies of the book will be available during the launch. Attendees will also receive Palgrave Macmillan discount coupons that can be used for online purchases of the book.

Special thanks to Prof. Patricia Brillantes Silvestre and the Dept. of Musicology for making this event possible.

Abstract of the Lecture
The arrival of modernity is often hailed in visual terms, but not as much as with the heraldry of its concomitant proliferation of sound, nor in how the modern society dealt and organized what they were hearing. The lecture inquires into the process of ‘acoustemology’ (or acoustic epistemology, Steven Feld 1996). What kind of ‘acoustemes’ do hearing and listening reveal in nineteenth-century modernity and the modern epistemologies of race in the colonial spaces? To understand how modernity and the volatile imagination of race were imagined, heard and embodied, yamomo theoretically reflects on the intersections of sound studies, musicology and performance studies. By synaesthetically comparing Hans Belting’s image theory (2001, 2005) into an Anthropology of Sound, yamomo argues that the sound of modernity is inextricably intertwined with its mediated form (music) and its (racialized) embodiment. This theory also proposes the concept of the ‘sonus‘ to separate the materiality of sound from its epistemological construction.

The lecture will examine the intersection between sound and modernity in dramatic and musical performance in Manila and the Asia-Pacific between 1869 and 1948. During this period, tolerant political regimes resulted in the globalization of capitalist relations and the improvement of transcontinental travel and worldwide communication. This allowed modern modes of theatre and music consumption to instigate the uniformization of cultural products and processes, while simultaneously fragmenting societies into distinct identities, institutions, and nascent nation-states. Taking the performing bodies of migrant musicians as the locus of sound, yamomo argues that the global movement of acoustic modernities was replicated and diversified through its multiple subjectivities within empire, nation, and individual agencies. It traces the arrival of European travelling music and theatre companies in Asia which re-casted listening into an act of modern cultural consumption, and follows the migration of Manila musicians as they engaged in the modernization project of the neighboring Asian cities.

“Alampat” Art Talk Series

As part of its Art Talks Series, the Iligan Institute of Technology of the Mindanao State University will facilitate a dialogue between the community and two (2) celebrated keynote speakers, meLê yamomo (for music) and Esteban Villaruz (for dance). Considered pillars of the arts and culture in Mindanao and the country, the speakers fulfill this year’s Alampat theme – Panulong: ”Asserting Identities, Reclaiming Place” in an engaging TED-Ex-like dialogue. The event is scheduled on 7 February 2018 at the CASSalida Theatre.

Workshop: Entanglements of Race, Sound and the Archive: Coloniality and the Globalised Present

Carolyn Birdsall and Anette Hoffmann are organizing a two-day workshop that brings together an interdisciplinary group invested in theoretically-informed, connective histories about modern aurality, race and archival dynamics. With the workshop we seek to facilitate a conversation in the Netherlands and to start building an international network for critical, decolonial research on sound cultural histories and archival practices.

In a short presentation entitled, “Speaking of Sound Archive: Audio Interviews of the Vienna Phonogram Archivists”, meLê yamomo will be presenting a preview of an episode of the podcast “Sonic Entanglements”.

The workshop will be held on 10-11 December 2018 at the University of Amsterdam – University Library. Click here for more information.

“Asia as Method” in Popular Music Studies

For this year’s International Association for the Study of Popular Music (Germany-Austria-Switzerland chapter) Conference, we present a panel entitled, “Asia as Method” in Popular Music Studies. This panel aims to foreground negotiations of our individual positions as music scholars in the light of ongoing public and disciplinary rearrangements of academic engagement with East and South East Asian popular musics.

The panel consists of Dr. Citra Aryandari (ethnomusicologist, performance scholar, filmmaker; Institut Seni Indonesia/Indonesian Academy of the Arts Yogyakarta), Dr. Oliver Seibt (cultural musicologist, German working immigrant to the Netherlands, Japanophile; University of Amsterdam), Dr. Barbara Titus (cultural musicologist, self-declared cosmopolitan, hence privileged in researching South African and Indonesian musics; University of Amsterdam), and Dr. meLê yamomo (performance and sound scholar-artist; University of Amsterdam).

We present these negotiations in monological, dialogical, and performative formats in order to showcase the variety and divergence, but also the shared concerns in our scholarly and cultural backgrounds, in the methods we employ, in the case studies we focus on as well as in the cultural and political contexts in which we (have to) carry out our research. These negotiations give rise to questions that stem from shared concerns, yet offer different perspectives on the (Asian) study of (Asian) music:

  • To what extent has knowledge about Asian (popular) music been conceived and acquired for European and North-American (scholarly) needs, and to what extent should these needs be decentered?
  • How can and do scholars identifying themselves as “non-Asian” (re)position themselves as researchers of Asian music in the increasingly strong inter-Asian scholarly networks and exchanges and constellations of knowledge, like the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society or the Inter-Asian Popular Music Studies Group?
  • What are the implications of proposing “Asia as Method” (Chen 2010)?
  • Does the study of, for instance, Berlin post-punk music using an Asian theoretical framework count as Asian studies?

In consciously engaging the performativity of the conference panel presentation, we reflect on the uninterrogated presumptions and socialized norms that are often rendered invisible by this social performance genre. At a disciplinary level, standardized use of rhetoric and scholastic language is expected in the scholar’s exposition of academic knowledge. Concomitantly, the audience brings into this social event (unexamined) expectations of how the knowledge being presented intersects with gender, race, class, and “forms” of knowledge of the speaker.

IASPM-DACH 2018 Conference will happen on 18-20 October and will be hosted by Universität Bern.


Listen to the short podcast overview of the conference here.
Watch our panel performance/presentation here.

Book Launch: »Sounding Modernities: Theatre and Music in Manila and the Asia Pacific, 1869-1946«

We are very happy to announce that dr. meLê yamomo’s book, »Sounding Modernities: Theatre and Music in Manila and the Asia Pacific, 1869-1946« is now officially out! We would like to cordially invite you to a small gathering of friends to celebrate the launching of the book. This will take place on 12 October at the University Theatre in Amsterdam (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, 1012CP Amsterdam). The welcome reception is at 17:00. The program starts at 17:30 with performances from guest artists. A modest borrel will be served afterwards.