Elise Anderson, PhD Candidate in Central Eurasian Studies and Folklore & Ethnomusicology will present this talk on "Imperfect Perfection: Uyghur Muqam and Practices of Cultural Renovation in the People's Republic of China." The talk is based on the subject of her dissertation, which explores how actors in various cultural institutions have shaped a genre of music performance among the Uyghurs, the titular group of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, into a highly symbolic “ethno-national” music over the course of the twentieth century. Specifically, it explores the tradition known as the Uyghur On Ikki Muqami, or Uyghur Twelve Muqams, a large-scale set of suites that has come to define the core of Uyghur musical and cultural tradition over the past 80-plus years. Previous researchers have explored the work on muqam as a project of ridding the tradition of cultural intimacies and as a project of national canon creation; however, scholars are yet to sufficiently explore the transformative symbolic dimensions of the work to craft muqam into a representative form. Her dissertation argues that muqam has for decades been subject to what she terms cultural renovation, a set of discourses and practices that treats culture as analogous to the urban built environment and thus subject to extensive maintenance work. Drawing from data gathered in more than 30 months of ethnographic and textual research in China and Sweden, my project provides looks into different sites and realms of this renovationist work, including the efforts of the party-state and ethnic minority elites alike to use music in the service of politics (Chapter 2), cultural bureaucracies and the work of creating intangible cultural heritage (Chapter 3), historical shifts in modes of textual production (Chapter 4), practices of staging muqam and other Uyghur musical forms (Chapter 5), and attempts to create modern, cosmopolitan pedagogy in institutional music educational programs (Chapter 6).
Elise Anderson is a candidate for dual Ph.D. degrees in Ethnomusicology and Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University. Her research has been funded by grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and Fulbright-Hays, and focuses broadly on the performing arts of the Uyghurs. She has spent extensive time living and conducting research abroad and is currently completing her dissertation based on more than 30 months of ethnographic and archival research in China and Sweden. Her writing has appeared in the journal Asian Music in addition to other, more public-facing venues. Elise is a trained vocalist and wind instrumentalist who made her first foray into the world of Uyghur musical performance when she began learning to perform folksong and muqam repertoires on the dutar and voice in early 2013. She is also an enthusiast for various forms of social dance and finds that many of her most rewarding research experiences come in the form of sharing music and dance with others.
The Association of Central Eurasian Students Brown Bag Series is kindly sponsored by the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center.