Rachel Beckles-Willson, 21 November 2013

Title of the Talk: Orientalism and Musical Mission: an Oxford Ethnomusicology

When? Thursday 21st November 2013 (17:00-18:30)

Where? Ertegun House, St Giles, University of Oxford

Speaker: Rachel Beckles-Willson (Professor of Music, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Abstract: Rachel’s recent book, Orientalism and Musical Mission, offers a new way of understanding music’s connections with imperialism, drawing on new archive sources and interviews and using the lens of ‘mission’. Influenced by religious and secular missions from Europe and North America since the mid-nineteenth century, institutions such as churches, schools, radio stations and governments have consistently claimed that music provides a way of understanding and reforming Arab civilians in Palestine. In her talk Rachel will situate her research in the context of the legacy of Edward W. Said, and within discussions of postcolonial theory more broadly.

Speaker Biography: Rachel Beckles Willson is Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research explores intersections between music, politics and performance, and often engages with the disciplinary juncture between musicology and ethnomusicology. She has published three monographs, two addressing music influenced by Cold War politics and (Hungarian) nationalism, and the most recent one a study of western musical dispatches to the Arabs of Palestine from 1840 to the present (Orientalism and Musical Mission (Cambridge 2013)). Her current work addresses the new vivification of Ottoman musical practices in Europe and North America today.


Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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