Skip to main content

Syndicate contentdissertations

Adam Kielman Appointed Assistant Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Completes Doctorate

The Center for Ethnomusicology congratulates our newest PhD alumnus, Dr. Adam Kielman!  Dr. Kielman, who also holds his undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies from Columbia, defended his dissertation, Zou Qilai!: Musical Subjectivity, Mobility, and Sonic Infrastructures in Postsocialist China, on Dec. 1, 2016.  His dissertation, abstracted below, was advised by Prof. Ana Maria Ochoa, and his committee included Profs. Chris Washburne, Kevin Fellezs, Fred Lau (U Hawai'i), and Timothy Oakes (U Colorado/Boulder).

We also warmly congratulate Dr. Kielman on his acceptance of an Assistant Professorship in Music at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which he will begin in January, 2017.  

Congratulations to Adam!


Adam Kielman: Zou Qilai!: Musical Subjectivity, Mobility, and Sonic Infrastructures in Postsocialist China

This dissertation is an ethnography centered around two bands based in Guangzhou and their relationships with one of China’s largest record companies. Bridging ethnomusicology, popular music studies, cultural geography, media studies, vocal anthropology, and the anthropology of infrastructure, it examines emergent forms of musical creativity and modes of circulation as they relate to shifts in concepts of self, space, publics, and state instigated by China’s political and economic reforms. Chapter One discusses a long history of state-sponsored cartographic musical anthologies, as well as Confucian and Maoist ways of understanding the relationships between place, person, and music. These discussions provide a context for understanding contemporary musical cosmopolitanisms that both build upon and disrupt these histories; they also provoke a rethinking of ethnomusicological and related linguistic theorizations about music, place, and subjectivity. Through biographies of seven musicians working in present-day Guangzhou, Chapter Two outlines a concept of “musical subjectivity” that looks to the intersection of personal histories, national histories, and creativity as a means of exploring the role of individual agency and expressive culture in broader cultural shifts.Chapter Three focuses on the intertwining of actual corporeal mobilities and vicarious musical mobilities, and explores relationships between circulations of global popular musics, emergent forms of musical creativity, and an evolving geography of contemporary China. Chapter Four extends these concerns to a discussion of media systems in China, and outlines an approach to “sonic infrastructures” that puts sound studies in dialogue with the anthropology of infrastructure in order to understand how evolving modes of musical circulation and the listening practices associated with them are connected to economic, political, and cultural spatialities. Finally, Chapter Five examines the intersecting aesthetic and political implications of popular music sung in local languages (fangyan) by focusing on contemporary forms of articulation between music, language, listening, and place. Taken together, these chapters explore musical cosmopolitanisms as knowledge-making processes that are reconfiguring notions of self, state, publics, and space in contemporary China.

Congratulations to Dr. Marti Newland!

Dr. Martha Newland

The Center warmly congratulates Dr. Marti Newland, who successfull defended her dissertation, entitled Sounding “Black”: An Ethnography of Racialized Vocality at Fisk University, on June 23, 2014.  Her dissertation was sponsoredby Prof. Fox.

Dr. Newland has accepted a postdoctoral position as Core Lecturer (Music Humanities) at Columbia University for 2014-16.  

Congrats Marti!


Congratulations to Dr. Simon Calle and Dr. Brian Karl!

Brian Karl
Warm congratulations to our two most recent PhD graduates in Ethnomusicology, Dr. Brian Karl and Dr. Simon Calle, both of whom defended dissertations during the 2011-12 academic year.  Dr. Karl defended in November, 2011; Dr. Calle in May 2012.  Abstracts of both dissertations are below.

Simon Calle:
Reinterpreting the Global, Rearticulating the Local: Nueva Música Colombiana, Networks, Circulation, and Affect

This dissertation analyses identity formation through music among contemporary Colombian musicians. The work focuses on the emergence of musical fusions in Bogotá, which participant musicians and Colombian media have called “nueva música Colombiana” (new Colombian music). The term describes the work of bands that assimilate and transform North-American music genres such as jazz, rock, and hip-hop, and blend them with music historically associated with Afro-Colombian communities such as cumbia and currulao, to produce several popular and experimental musical styles. In the last decade, these new fusions have begun circulating outside Bogotá, becoming the distinctive sound of young Colombia domestically and internationally. The dissertation focuses on questions of musical circulation, affect, and taste as a means for articulating difference, working on the self, and generating attachments others and therefore social bonds and communities
This dissertation considers musical fusion from an ontological perspective influenced by actor-network, non-representational, and assemblage theory. Such theories consider a fluid social world, which emerges from the web of associations between heterogeneous human and material entities. The dissertation traces the actions, interactions, and mediations between places, people, institutions, and recordings that enable the emergence of new Colombian music. In considering those associations, it  
pays close attention to the affective relationships between people and music. In that sense, instead of thinking on relatively fixed and consistent relationships between music, place, and identity, built upon discursive or imagined ties, the work considers each of these concepts as a network of relations enmeshed with each other and in consistent re- articulation.

Brian Karl
Across a Divide: Mediations of Contemporary Popular Music in Morocco and Spain

This dissertation is about the mediation of cross-cultural difference among Moroccan and Spanish musical practitioners. It is based on the idea that negotiations across the gaps of such difference have been promoted through the increased circulation of people, products and ideas in the modern era. Based on fieldwork during the years 2003-2007, primarily in the urban sites of Granada, Spain and Fez, Morocco, the project focuses on popular music, how both the production and reception of music are critically bound up with notions of genre, how resulting associations of musical practice are affected by different uses of technology, and how musical practices of all types partake of and help form different ideas of belonging.

The understanding of genres of musical expression by listeners and performers alike serves a similar function in demonstrating affiliation with certain in-groups or belief in certain ideologies: e.g., of ethnic or national belonging; or of modern, cosmopolitan access. Tracking not only performance of certain genres but discourse about those genres provides clues to how crucial cultural and political differences are understood and mediated.

Key sites for research included official venues for public concerts and cultural tourism, but also more everyday spaces of musical production and reception such as bars and cafes, homes, taxis, streets, parks, and small retail shops. In the course of my research I attended dozens of performances and rehearsals by professional and amateur musicians, trailed selected working musical groups over many months as they pursued their performance practices, and interviewed both music producers and music listeners in many different contexts.

In the course of explicating the processes of musical production and reception in these locales, the project explores a broad set of related topics while framing the overall investigation theoretically. These topics include questions of migration in the modern era, of cosmopolitanism in various forms as a response to increased cross-cultural contacts due to various human movements, as well as consideration of crucial aspects of modernity– e.g. colonialism, nationalism, globalization, and cultural, economic and technological development–-all of which have been significant for cultural practices in Morocco, and among Moroccan emigrants to Spain and elsewhere in recent generations

Ethnomusicology PhD Candidate Nili Belkind Wins Whiting Fellowship!

The Department of Music congratulates Ethnomusicology PhD candidate Nili Belkind, who has been awarded a prestigious Whiting Fellowship by Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  The fellowship is provided by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation to enable the completion of innovative and excellent doctoral dissertations. 

Ms. Belkind's dissertation research is an inquiry into the relationship between musical culture and political life in Israel/Palestine, where for the past century, violent conflict has been both shaping and claiming the lives of Palestinians and Jews. She focuses on the complex ways in which musical culture acts as a sphere in which power and hegemony are asserted, negotiated and resisted between and within different groups, in relation to the political situation. She analyzes the politics of sound as a sphere that is both reflective of the situation and constitutive of identity formations, particularly in relationship to conceptualizations of citizenship, nationality, ethnicity, and ‘home.’

Themes highlighted in her dissertation include: the role of cultural policy in the production of social imaginaries in Palestine and Israel through musical activity; the relationship between identity, music making, spatiality, and temporality in Palestine, where movement is highly constricted by the occupation; the musical activity that surrounded the summer 2011 social protest movement in Israel, during which attempts were made to disrupt the hegemony of class and ethno-national hierarchies, and the musical production of individual Palestinian artists who are citizens of Israel and who, due to their minoritized status and the political situation, must negotiate between multiple and contradictory spheres of belonging.

Congratulations Nili!

Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes