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meLê Yamomo, Dr.

Doctoral Researcher


meLê yamomo lived in Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, Warwick, Munich, and now inhabits Amsterdam and Berlin studying, teaching, and creating performance/theatre and sound/music. He is an Assistant Professor of Theatre, Performance, and Sound Studies (University of Amsterdam), the author of Sounding Modernities: Theatre and Music in Manila and the Asia Pacific, 1869-1946 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and laureate of the »Veni Innovation Grant« (2017-2021) funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for his project »Sonic Entanglements: Listening to Modernities in Southeast Asian Sound Recordings«.

Doctoral Research

Sounding Modernities: Theatre and Music in Manila and the Asia Pacific, 1869-1946

This project examines the intersection between sound and modernity in dramatic and musical performance in Manila and the Asia-Pacific between 1869 and 1948. During this period, tolerant political regimes resulted in the globalization of capitalist relations and the improvement of transcontinental travel and worldwide communication. This allowed modern modes of theatre and music consumption to instigate the uniformization of cultural products and processes, while simultaneously fragmenting societies into distinct identities, institutions, and nascent nation-states.

Taking the performing bodies of migrant musicians as the locus of sound, this book argues that the global movement of acoustic modernities was replicated and diversified through its multiple subjectivities within empire, nation, and individual agencies. It traces the arrival of European travelling music and theatre companies in Asia which re-casted listening into an act of modern cultural consumption and follows the migration of Manila musicians as they engaged in the modernization project of the neighboring Asian cities.

The book is now published by Palgrave-Macmillan (2018). Get a copy here.

Current Research

Sonic Entanglements: Listening to Modernities in Sound Recordings of Southeast Asia, 1890-1950

The research project, Sonic Entanglements: Listening to Modernities in Sound Recordings of Southeast Asia, 1890-1950 will identify, organize, and analyze extant early sound (musical and non-musical) media in and about Southeast Asia during the emergence and development of early recording technologies in the region (1880-1950). The research endeavors to expand the historiographical archival corpus to include the early sound media and technologies as primary sources for the theoretical reflection of the Southeast Asian cultural history of modernities and the region’s entanglement with modern globalization. The project methodologically shifts away from the philological analyses of historical texts, towards developing a framework of knowing how residents of Southeast Asia understood and constituted modernities through hearing and listening. In doing so, the study aims to provide a corrective in the text literacy-based historiography of Southeast Asia modernities which occludes non-literate actors and ‘voices’. This study on historical sounds of the Southeast Asian region also contributes to expanding the geographical and cultural bases of the sound studies and sound history. The project will examine three themes of modernities in three different case studies: (1) modern racial epistemology and the colonial practices of ethnomusicology, (2) urbanization and ‘noise’ policies, and (3) anti/postcolonial political identities and early radio broadcast.

Sonic Entanglements will produce academic publications and a podcast series to make its findings available to the public. Through the support of the Transregional Studies Forum-Berlin, meLê yamomo has recently organized a workshop that brought together sound scholars and sound experts in/about Southeast Asia. Through this workshop, the project envisions to kick-start an inter-institutional research, artistic collaborations, and digital humanities tool.

Sonic Entanglements is a research project funded by the Dutch Scientific Research Organization (Nederlands Wetenschappelijk Organisatie – NWO) and is embedded at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Here you can find a list of meLê yamomo's publications.