International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Call for papers: 5th Symposium of the Study Group on Musics of East Asia, 25 – 27 August 2016, TAIPEI

Call for papers: 5th symposium of MEA, 2016 August, Taipei

Deadline for submission: JAN 20 2016


5th SYMPOSIUM: 25 – 27 August 2016, TAIPEI

Organized by the Academia Sinica and the Taipei National University of the Arts



2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of the ICTM Musics of East Asia Study Group, which took place in August 2006 in Ilan, Taiwan. Coming full circle to Taiwan again, this meeting provides a forum to look back on 10 years of the MEA Study Group’s development from a fledgling research group to an important and diverse community that is itself disciplining music research in different ways, and through different voices. As such, the overlying theme of East Asian Ethnomusicologies – understood in the plural – seeks to be as inclusive as possible, while encouraging reflexivity of approach and understanding. A revisit of Witzleben 1997’s article Whose Ethnomusicology? Western Ethnomusicology and the Study of Asian Music provides a useful starting point for re-interrogating issues that continue to concern East Asian musical academia, interpreted today not simply against the proverbial and amorphous ‘Western’ musical academia in a stereotypical binary reading. But fault lines continue to be drawn intra-discipline, even as new bridges span the boundaries of different kinds of academic intersectionality.


The following questions are pertinent to the conference topic:

- Are there East Asian Ethnomusicologies, and how do they relate to distinct East Asian musicologies? What are the disciplinary canons and scholarly lineages, and who are the activists of East Asian ethnomusicologies? Is there a ‘we’ in East Asian Ethnomusicology/ Ethnomusicologies? If so, are we as unique as we think we are? To what extent are differences related to cultural or political fault lines? How is ethnomusicology applied in East Asia, vis-à-vis education policies and emerging foci on sustainability and impact?

- Do East Asian Ethnomusicologies still privilege content, typologies and analysis over discourse and criticism? Is the ICTM MEA group an interventionist (or protectionist) space in an international ethnomusicology scene that sees a rumoured 40% conference abstract rejection rate (a process which potentially privileges native speakers of English)?

- How has recent economic expansion in East Asia reshaped infrastructural, funding and research/ teaching flows within the region, and also beyond? How have global academic and political communities come to understand the rising trend in foreign academics coming to work in East Asia (esp China), in tandem with an increase in the number of East Asian students conducting research and studying overseas? How have such transnational movements in themselves changed the nature of emerging sub-disciplines in ethnomusicology, music and sound studies, as well as the geographical spread of different communities of overseas students?

- How do younger scholars, or female scholars, or LGBT scholars in East Asia negotiate changing academic and institutional power structures that nevertheless continue to be dominated by the hegemonies of patriarchy and institutional hierarchy within (and also without) East Asia?

Preliminary questions below seek to highlight reflexively the pluralities of music and sound studies, refocused through the themes below. Many of these topics have been discussed – in changing articulations – over the course of the history the MEA study group itself. Indeed, the group’s 10th anniversary meeting provides a platform for a review of milestones in the development of music scholarship in East Asia over the past few decades, and a vantage point for looking into the future.



1. Music and Embodiment

Recent studies of the role of the body in processes of listening, musical production, musical learning and musical emoting have turned in new understandings of corporeal and experiential musicianship/ dance practice (Clayton 2013, Gillan 2013). Yet, stereotypes in popular culture continue to abound of East Asian bodily ‘conservatism’, ‘stiffness’; and ‘inscrutability’. This theme calls for new examinations of whether, and if so, how, different East Asian musical bodies exist and locate themselves culturally, psychologically and materially.

2. Cosmopolitanism, transnational flows, creative labour markets

While the words ‘global’ and ‘globalisation’ in music have recently taken a back seat against newer terms such as ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘intercultural’ and ‘transnational’, what do they mean in different East Asian musical contexts, and how are they separate or related to each other? The questions may be partly addressed through understanding the above processes through the lenses of shifting global capital and changing creative labour markets, particularly in (but not limited to) the situating of East Asian musical articulations in the world/ fusion music markets, transnational pop (particularly K-pop), and in urban soundscapes. But while such new and exciting conceptualisations of culture continue percolate, where do they leave space for imagining and practising the ‘traditional’ – in postcolonial modernity or otherwise?

3. Eco-criticism and Music

As Paris hosts the UN Climate Change Conference in Nov 2015, East Asia agitates and watches with slow but increasing interest. How can music researchers and ethnomusicologists weigh in on a topical subject that has in many ways pushed for wider interdisciplinarity against rising concerns about negotiations with (and impact on) the environment? Following on from Nancy Guy’s (2009) article on Ecomusicology and Taipei’s Tamsui River, this theme encourages researchers to consider music in interaction with the environment in dynamic ecosystems, where sustainability has to be considered through intersecting realms of the physical, material, cultural and politico-economic.  

4. Music history, historical musics, historical reconstructions

Do researchers of music history in East Asia approach their subject as historians, musicologists, analysts, archaeologists, or ethnomusicologists? This theme addresses the debate of content vs discourse, allowing scholars to reconsider particular East Asian (or not) hermeneutics and approaches to looking at ancient/ historical texts and the reinterpretation of them through contemporary lenses.

5. New Research


LANGUAGE English is the official language of this symposium.


PRESENTATION FORMATS Proposals are invited in the following formats:

1. Individual paper:

      20 minutes long and followed by 10 minutes for discussion; a 20-minute paper is about 8 or 9 typewritten pages, double-spaced using 12 point font.

 2. Organized panel: these may be presented in ONE the following formats:

    - 120 minutes long, 4 presenters

    - 120 minutes long, 3 presenters and a discussant

        (each presentation is 20 minutes with 10 minutes for initial discussion; there will be 30 minutes for summary).

     - Forum/Roundtable, 120 minutes long with up to 6 presenters on a given topic, entirely organized and run by a given Chair of the Roundtable,

        with discussion among the presenters and the audience

3. Workshop: informal, interactive hands-on session on one topic for a maximum of two hours, completely run by the workshop organiser.

4. Film/DVD: recently completed or in-progress films, video programs or excerpts thereof, each presentation about 20 minutes in length including some discussion on the film/dvd

5. ‘TEDxstyle Lightning Papers of 10-minutes in length, featuring no more than 20 slides, with 5 minutes for Questions/ Answers.

6. Poster Presentation is the presentation of research information by an individual or representatives of research teams from ICTM-MEA. The poster presentation should be presented for 3 x 4 feet paper mounting.



Please submit an abstract for a paper presentation in one of the above listed formats (300 words max), along with a very short biographical note (50 words or less) about the presenter. Organizers of panels and roundtables must submit a statement on the focus and central concern of the panel/ roundtable along with an abstract from each presenter on his/her presentation (each abstract is limited to 300 words and biographical notes are strictly limited to 50 words). Please note that you can only make ONE type of format submission for the conference.


Please send your proposal via the googleform below.


All proposals must be submitted in English

All proposals will undergo an anonymised peer review, and the decision on proposals will be announced in the first week of March 2016. If you have a deadline for funding applications towards etc, please notify the Program Chair in the ‘Other comments’ section of the googleform.


You should receive an email within 7 days of your submission. If you have failed to receive a response, please contact the Chair of the Programme Committee Shzr Ee TAN []



All presenters must register as a member of the International Council of Traditional Music directly with the ICTM Secretariat before attending the Study Group Symposium. The email contact is: Students will have a special registration fee for both ICTM as well as the conference. All registration fees and other information will be forthcoming from the Local Arrangements Committee.


The Local Committee is led by:

LEE Ching-huei

Hsin-Chun Tasaw LU


The Program Committee for this Symposium is:


Matthew GILLAN

LEE Ching-huei

Hsin-Chun Tasaw LU

Hilary Finchum-SUNG

Shzr Ee TAN, [Chair] 

ZHAO Weiping

Hae-Kyung UM