Sonic Entanglements: Sound, Archive, and Acoustic Historiographies in the Asia Pacific

9 September | 10:30-17:30 | Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Hilversum
10 September | 10:00-16:00 | VOC Zaal, University of Amsterdam

This workshop gathers together scholars of history, anthropology, ethnomusicology, performance studies, media studies, and psychology working on/in the Asia Pacific sound histories, as well as archivists, programmers, and sound engineers of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Vienna Phonogram Archive, and the Jaap Kunst Collection. Participants will reflect on the entanglements of currently nation-framed sound historiography and transregional/translocal discourses of acoustic epistemologies from various disciplinary perspectives. 

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 the Asia Pacific, 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 the Asia Pacific?

Sonic Knowledge
How did the early sound recordings constitute and construct knowledges and understandings of modernities in the Asia Pacific: 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 Asia Pacific? How do we take into account the mediality and the aesthetics generated through these media as the very epistemes of the Asia Pacific modernities?

Listening Societies/Communities. 
How did listening constitute the imagined (trans)national and translocal communities in the Asia Pacific? 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? How do we deal with the challenges in the limits of their institutional and ‘ownership’ policies?

Bart Barendregt (University of Leiden)
Strings of Sorrow, on remembering the Dutch through Southern Sumatran classical guitar

Barbara Titus  (University of Amsterdam)
Inscribing knowledge: Ethnomusicological recordings as texts and practices

Carolyn Birdsall  (University of Amsterdam)
Worlding the Archives: Radio Collection, Heritage Frameworks, and Selection Principles

Citra Aryandari (Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta )
Performing vs. Recording: The Sound of Modern Bali

Gerda Lechleitner (Phonogram Archive of the Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Stimulating and encouraging performers in front of the phonograph – sound recordings as the acoustic memory of communities: source criticism, historical methods and responsibilities of archives today

Jose Buenconsejo (University of the Philippines)
Sound-Matter of Cultural Memory: the Transmediatization of Cebuano Balitao, Folk Song Alimukoy and Kinhason, and Folk Dance Kuradang

meLê yamomo (University of Amsterdam)
Whose Sonic Technologies?: Decolonizing Sound Knowledge

Sri Margana (Universitas Gadjah Mada)
The Genealogy of Dutch Colonial Knowledge of Javanese Gamelans: A Reappraisal of Post-colonial Approach

Rameses de Jesus (University of the Philippines)
Beyond Psychoacoustics: The Philippine National Anthem as a Sonus

Rasika, Ajotikar (Universität Göttingen)
Sonic epistemologies of caste and the modern sound archive of India

Vincent Kuitenbrouwer (University of Amsterdam)
The glass house revisited: radio broadcasting and the blind spots in the late colonial state in the Netherlands Indies, 1920s and 1930s

Henry Spiller  (University of California-Davis)
Jeroen de Kloet (Univeristy of Amsterdam
Leonie Schmidt (University of Amsterdam)
Yiu Fai Chow  (Hong Kong Baptist University)

Limited seats are available to observers and can be reserved by contacting the organizers at

This workshop is convened by meLê yamomo and Barbara Titus in cooperation with Harry van Biessum, with the support of the Sonic Entanglements” Research Project, the University of Amsterdam-Musicology Department, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies, and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.

This project is part of the

[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

“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.