Articulating Modernity: The Making of Popular Music in 20th Century Southeast Asia and the Rise of New Audiences

This is a four-year (2011-2014) joint project of KITLV in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam (NIOD) and the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of University Leiden funded by NWO.

The project focuses on societal change through the prism of popular music, emphasizing the appeal of modernity rather than that of the nation-state. This study offers a new way of studying Southeast Asia that foregrounds the movement of people, music, ideas, and technologies among the region’s cosmopolitan centers like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Manila. The focus on popular music offers new insights into the particular historical trajectories of modernity in specific urban settings. Music, by its nature, is suitable for expressing new styles while simultaneously connecting the familiar with the new, the foreign with the local.

The team members investigate decisive historical junctures where technological innovation, human agency, the consumption of new musical styles and the rise of new audiences came together within particular Southeast Asian urban localities. The cultural transformations and contestations taking place in these localities are intertwined with expressions of modernity. The project aims to capture these processes in several sub-projects: (1) The Jazz Age (Peter Keppy); (2) Pop, Politics and Piety in the Digital Era (Bart Barendregt); (3) Postcolonial Music in two Southeast Asian urban localities, 1960s-70s (Buni Yani); (4) Remixing Regimes: a history of Indonesian participatory culture (Nuraini Julisastuti) and (5) Indonesian Muslim fan girls of East Asian pop (Lusvita Nuziliyanti).


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Related Researchers

Henk Schulte Nordholt (project director)
Bart Barendregt (project coordinator and researcher)
Peter Keppy (project coordinator and researcher)

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