Saturday, June 21, 2008

CONTRIBUTIONS SOUGHT: Austronesian Soundscapes - Performing Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia

Call for contributions to an edited volume

To be published as volume no. 4 in the IIAS book series, University of
Amsterdam Press. Estimated publication: summer 2009. Editor: Birgit Abels,
International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands. Series
editors: Max Sparreboom & Paul van der Velde.

Austronesia (the area where Austronesian languages are spoken) stretches
over a large and mainly oceanic area: from Madagascar in the west, to
Easter Island in the east. Customarily, Austronesia is roughly divided into
Formosa/Taiwan, the Malay Archipelago, and the Pacific islands of
Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. The music of some Austronesian areas
has yet to be described and analyzed in publication. This is particularly
lamentable given the value (beyond musicological contribution) a study of
local and regional music, grounded in cultural theory, could have. Some
parts of the region have aptly been described as "laboratories of social
and cultural change," and music plays a decisive role in both the expression
and construction of identities, i.e., with regard to key factors driving
social and cultural transitions.

"Austronesian Soundscapes. Performing Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia"
seeks to combine analyses of Austronesian music in a single, edited
volume. To that end, the editor is calling for papers focusing on specific areas
of Austronesia, describing and explaining performing arts in their cultural
context(s) and transcending disciplinary frontiers within the humanities
and social sciences. The articles should present studies of individual
cultures through the "lens" that music offers.

The volume will collate the material and will draw together contemporary
cultural studies and musical analyses. "Austronesian Soundscapes. Performing
Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia" aims to fill an important research gap,
and to demonstrate, at a methodological level, how these two disciplines,
cultural studies and music studies, can strengthen, complement and enrich
each other; how a cultural study of music (rather than an "ethnomusicology"
or a "comparative musicology") such as this, can create new vistas for
understanding the challenges faced by Austronesian cultures in a globalized

The editor encourages contributions which devote rigorous analytical
attention to traditional musical styles, and also to emergent popular music
and styles. Music is fundamental to the organization of society, and vice
versa. It is central to the generation of meaning; yet at the same time,
sound already carries meaning. Because of this subtle and complex
relationship, the musical analyses should be deployed to leverage a deeper
understanding of the cultural contexts that bring the music about. How do
the culture carriers themselves conceptualize the meaning that is
expressed and renewed through their music-making? The articles should
not ask Gayatri Spivak's groundbreaking question of the late 1980s -
Can the subaltern speak? They should ask instead, how it speaks
through music?

Please submit your abstract (300–400 words) and a short bio electronically
as a Word file e-mail attachment by August 15, 2008, to Birgit Abels,
International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), at
austronesiansoundscapes*@* (please remove the asterisks before
and after the "@"). You are invited to consult with Birgit before developing
your research article, and early notification of interest would be greatly
appreciated. Final submissions should be 5,000–8,000 words in length and
are due by January 31, 2009.

Dr. Birgit Abels
International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)
Postbus 9515
2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands

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