Stuparitz, Dr. Otto

Otto Stuparitz is a cultural musicologist and postdoctoral researcher at the KITLV, and a lecturer of Cultural Musicology in the Musicology Department at the University of Amsterdam. He serves as the Interim Curator of the Jaap Kunst Sound Collection. His primary research interests include transnational musical histories, music and violence, and the traditional, sacred, popular, and vernacular musics of colonial and post-colonial Indonesia. More broadly his work is concerned with ethnographic archives, transmission and sustainability, and cultural politics. His current book project focuses on cultural practices related to jazz in Indonesia, and their connections to the Netherlands and the United States, through emerging forms of circulation and preservation shaped by grassroots archivists and the embodied listening of intergenerational archival users.

Otto Stuparitz’s scholarship has long been interested in issues of cultural transmission, preservation, and sustainability. He was introduced to gamelan during his bachelor’s program and soon performed a concert blending Balinese gamelan and jazz at the Bali Arts Festival in 2008. He went on to research the social paradoxes of Balinese gamelan pedagogues transmitting religious, cultural, and environmental knowledge while also participating a capitalist labor market. He became a longstanding performer with traditional and post-traditional gamelan ensembles in Southern California, now in the Netherlands, and has performed at venues such as Disney Hall and the California Institute of the Arts. He contributed to recordings for the album Mujo (2023) by Gamelan Merdu Kumala and the film Bali Beats of Paradise (2018). He has worked as a bassist, composer, and arranger with West Javanese jazz fusion musicians on the album Bluesukan (2020).

Educated in interdisciplinary programs interested in the anthropology of music, Stuparitz’s research understands music as culture. He received his B.A in Musicology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research has been funded by various sources, including the US Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, the US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays/COTI Fellowship; grants from the Association for Asian Studies, the Social Science Research Council, and the Henry Luce Foundation; and university grants from UCLA and Columbia University.

His current book project, based upon 24 months of ethnographic, archival, and performance research, is entitled Archival Value: Jazz in Java and Preservation as Performance. It centers on contemporary Indonesian performers and grassroots sound archivists in Indonesia and in diaspora. It critically examines the socio-political contexts by which musical media becomes recognized for its “archival value” and the cultural biographies of sound materials, particularly in relation to national institutions and the global music industry. Although the process is full of contradictions, this ethnographic study of a politics of preservation reveals the ethnic diversity and cosmopolitan qualities of Indonesia’s sonic heritage.

Related Research Project(s)

Unpacking KITLV Special Collections: Colonial histories, object biographies, knowledge practices, and local agency

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