Sonic Entanglements Workshop and Archival Visits 2019

Between 9-16 September, The Sonic Entanglements Research Project gathers together scholars of history, anthropology, ethnomusicology, performance studies, media studies, and psychology, as well as archivists working on Southeast Asian sound histories in a series of workshop, panel discussion, and archival visits in Amsterdam/Hilversum, Berlin and Vienna. Participants will reflect on the entanglements of currently nation-framed sound historiography and transregional/translocal discourses of acoustic epistemologies from various disciplinary perspectives. 

The project is convened by meLê yamomo and Barbara Titus
in collaboration with Harry van Biessum and Gerda Lechleitner 
through the support of the following institutions:

NWO Veni Research Project “Sonic Entanglements” 
University of Amsterdam-Musicology Department,
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies,  
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis , Phonogrammarchiv der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,
Lautarchiv der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Berliner Phonogrammarchiv

Below is the schedule of events. To read more about the individual events, please click on the titles.  

Sonic Entanglements: Sound, Archive, and Acoustic Historiographies in the Asia Pacific 
09 September | The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (Hilversum) 
10 September | VOC Zaal, University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam) 

EuroSEAS Conference 2019: [Panel] Sonic Entanglements 
13 September | Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (Berlin) 

Archival Visits
09 September | The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (Hilversum)
10 September | The Jaap Kunst Ethnomusicology Collection (Amsterdam)
11 September | Berlin Phonogrammarchiv (Berlin) 
12 September | Lautarchiv der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (Berlin) 
16 September | Phonogrammarchiv der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna) 

Bart Barendregt (University of Leiden) 
Barbara Titus (University of Amsterdam) 
Carolyn Birdsall (University of Amsterdam) 
Citra Aryandari (Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta ) 
Gerda Lechleitner (Phonogram Archive of the Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
Henry Spiller (University of California-Davis)  
Jeroen de Kloet (Univeristy of Amsterdam  
Jose Buenconsejo (University of the Philippines) 
Leonie Schmidt (University of Amsterdam)  
meLê yamomo (University of Amsterdam)
Peter Keppy (Nethelands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies)
Sri Margana (Universitas Gadjah Mada) 
Rameses de Jesus (University of the Philippines) 
Rasika, Ajotikar (Universität Göttingen) 
Vincent Kuitenbrouwer (University of Amsterdam) 
Yiu Fai Chow (Hong Kong Baptist University) 

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.

»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.

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.

Round Table: Activating Audio Collections

Carolyn Birdsall will be moderating a roundtable panel at the 2018 EYE International Conference entitled “Activating Audio Collections”. The EYE International Conference 2018 will take place at EYE-Amsterdam from Saturday 26 May to Tuesday 29 May 2018.

The discussion takes as its departure point recent strategies and challenges concerning access and attempts at ‘activating’ audio collections. How are stakeholders involved? Which role do artists play in featuring archival material? What is the potential role of researchers in initiatives, such as Europeana Sounds? What kinds of specific possibilities or problems appear with audio materials? What kinds of contextualisations are necessary for recorded audio? And what kinds of ethical considerations need to be taken into account? How do current trends at working interdisciplinarily generate new strategies and forms of collaborations in creating access and re-using the collections? How can gender and queer history be mediated by these archives? How can historic media materials reframe our understandings of national and colonial histories? The roundtable participants bring expertise of archives in different cultural contexts and have experience with work as researchers and artists using audio collections and/or promoting access.

The panel will be participated in by:

Carolyn Birdsall (moderator) is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She teaches in the P&P programme, and her current research examines the early history of radio archiving in and beyond Europe.

John Ashley Burgoyne is Lecturer in Computational Musicology at the University of Amsterdam. He is the Project Leader on Hooked on Music, a music experiment and game that has now been played over 3 million times worldwide. Currently he is co-editing the new Oxford Handbook on Music Corpus Analysis.

Ricarda Franzen is Lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and coordinates the programme of the MA Dramaturgy. Her doctoral research explores the history, contexts and possible uses of theatre sound archives. As a Dramaturge for radio plays, she has researched archival material for re-use in radio drama narratives.

Jennifer Hsieh is Anthropologist and Postdoctoral Researcher. She is currently completing a study entitled From Festival to Decibel: Making Noise in Urban Taiwan, which investigates the technological, bureaucratic, and informal practices underlying the production of environmental noise as a regulatory object in Taiwan, from the Japanese colonial period to the present.

Gregory Markus is Project Leader at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, where he runs the RE:VIVE initiative, focused on connecting the worlds of electronic music and cultural heritage developing new, simple and creative methods to present collections and increase awareness and re-use of open, digitized heritage collections.

meLê yamomo is Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He holds a PhD in Theatre/Musicology from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, and is also a Theatre Director and Composer. His current research project is entitled Sonic Entanglements: Listening to Modernities in Southeast Asian Sound Recordings (NWO-Veni, 2017-2021).