Julia's research centers on the intersection between contemporary performances and the musical past, between ethnography, historiography, and archival work: How can we reanimate past musical activity that may now seem dry and inert, but was once vivid and alive to the vagaries of performance? Conversely, how do we decide when a musical legacy is still relevant to a contemporary tradition, and avoid fetishizing tradition at the expense of dynamic self-expression?
Sounds Across the Bay: Musical Transitions to Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean
Together with literary studies scholar David Lunn (SOAS) and historian and ethnomusicologist Katherine Schofield (King's College London), Julia is editing a collection of multidisciplinary essays that will serve as the primary output of the 4-year, 20-plus-scholar ERC project, "Musical Transitions." In space, SATB ranges from Lucknow to South Sumatra; in time, from the earliest colonial forays to the period of high colonialism; and in approach, from South and Southeast Asian Studies to literary, historical and religious studies. The combined force of these methodologies have led us to understand music as equally present in generations-old lineages of musicians and instruments, and in the more amorphous conceptions of sonic power that are so pervasive within the range of our studies.
Civic Modulations: Public Music and Institutional Membership in East Timor
This current project is a study of urban music, the individual, and the transnational institution in one of the world’s newest nations. East Timor achieved independence in 2002 after centuries of Portuguese colonization, a violent Indonesian annexation, and interventions by the United Nations, the Catholic Church, international journalists and peacekeeping troops. Each of these larger memberships offered to East Timorese—“a Lusophone student,” “a torture victim,” “a citizen of a UN member state”—confers a certain identity connected with specific musical preferences. Catholic liturgy in Portuguese has flourished since independence, the colonial language redeemed by the melodies of a transformational church; radio stations offer youth both Indonesian and Brazilian popular music, programming two different sets of local history and global aspirations. "Civic Modulations" seeks to uncover how broad institutional frameworks are transformed when they hit the city streets or the public stage.