Current research

The project Articulating Modernity. The Making of Popular Music in 20th Century Southeast Asia and the Rise of New Audiences focuses on societal change through the prism of popular music, emphasising 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. By its nature, music is suitable for expressing new styles while simultaneously connecting the familiar with the new, the foreign with the local.

Researchers: dr. Bart Barendrecht (KITLV and project coordinator), dr. Peter (NIOD and project coordinator), Buni Yani MA (Leiden University), drs. Nuraini Julisastuti (Leiden University), Lusvita Nuziliyanti.
Duration: 2010-2014
Intended publication: monographs and a PhD thesis (expected 2015-2016)
Cooperation: KITLV, Leiden University

More information

The empirical focus is on pioneering creative artists who straddle conventional categories of ethnicity, religion, gender, generation and class, and their audiences. By mobilising cultural resources and networks, and exploring technological and entrepreneurial possibilities, these artists are at the forefront of popular culture’s production and redefinition. By calling into question the conventional and articulating what is modern, they co-produce new audiences and contribute to new processes of social differentiation.

The team members will 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 five 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-1970s (Buni Yani)
  4. Remixing Regimes: a history of Indonesian participatory culture (Nuraini Julisastuti)
  5. Indonesian Muslim fan girls of East Asian pop (Lusvita Nuziliyanti)