Shzr Tan

Shzr Tan


  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Research interests

she/her or they/them

Shzr Ee Tan is a Reader and ethnomusicologist/performance studies researcher (with a specialism in Sinophone, Southeast Asian and Indigenous geocultures) at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is committed to decolonial work and EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) practice in sound studies and the performing arts, with interests in how race discourses intersects with new digitalities, geopolitical shifts in power, and recent debates on climate awareness, multispecies thinking, changemaking, and precarity.

Shzr Ee is also Vice Dean of EDI for the School of Performing and Digital Arts at Royal Holloway, where she has initiated campaigns including an EDI Calendar of Activities, ongoing Safe Space Discussion Series, and workshops/training sessions on topics ranging from inter-ethnic solidarity to mental health and toxic masculinity. She is committed to mainstreaming EDI considerations within broader and systemic School workflows. As a steering committee member of the national sector group EDIMS, she also serves in several co-mentoring and community-building projects.

As a researcher, Shzr Ee is motivated by impact-led issues. In Sept 2021 she began an AHRC-funded project on Acoustic Regimes of Labour in Southeast Asia's transient worker communities, launching a number of collaborative/creative/pedagogical hybrid-delivered lifelong learning and activist campaigns. With Mai Kawabata in 2019, she spearheaded the project 'Cultural Imperialism and the 'New Yellow Peril' in Western Art Music'. Conversations arising from this initiative have gained traction among East Asian music communities around the world and turned her towards activist-informed scholarship and teaching. Shzr Ee is published widely by several presses including OUP, CUP and Routledge. Developing projects (with artist Youngsook Choi) include the ongoing Radical Aunties working group, bringing together invisibilised East and Southeast Asian women. 

In June 2020 with Kiku Day Shzr Ee organised the webinar Orchestrating Isolation: Musical Interventions and Inequality in the COVID-19 Fallout, calling to attention exacerbated marginalities in the pandemic-led (and digitally-distorted) devastation caused to musicians, freelancers and researchers in precarious labour, even traumatic losses of artists, investigators and teachers to the disease were mourned.

Other projects she is developing include musical theorizing on decolonization and issues of cultural appropriation. This includes an investigation into racist reactions to the ‘problem’ of China as a politico-cultural heavyweight/ neo-imperialist influence. In her broader work on decolonization she stakes a commitment to collaborative ethnography, and critiques the challenges of applying Global North EDI discourses on imagined 'Global South' concerns.

Shzr Ee is also exploring alternative ontologies and pedagogies (including online and social-media based delivery) in the disciplining and institutionalisation of musical practices in China in transnational and international interaction with higher education institutions around the world. This research has been motivated in part by changes (and resulting conversations on flashpoint topics of race and immigration) in the global higher education sector, as a result of large-scale transnational (transient) Chinese student enrolment in music programmes around the world, as well American, European and Asian establishment of China-based campuses.

Shzr Ee completed her Ph.D. at the School of Oriental and African Studies, studying Amis Indigenous folksong of Taiwan in interacting contexts of the village, the cultural troupe, the popular music industry and Christian missionisation. Her writings have appeared/ will appear in imprints by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Palgrave Macmillan and Routledge, among other publishers. Recent scholarly work includes Digital Inequality and Global Sounds (CUP), an article in (and co-editing of) Music, Indigeneity and Digital Media (Univerisity of Rochester Press; Hilder, Stobart and Tan), an article and co-editing of Gender in Chinese Music (University of Rochester Press; Harris, Pease & Tan), plus a monograph, “Beyond Innocence”: Amis Aboriginal Song in Taiwan as an Ecosystem (Ashgate).

Prior to taking on her Vice Dean (EDI) role, Shzr Ee served a term as Director of Postgraduate Studies (Taught) at the RHUL Music Department, where she contributed to course redevelopment. Modules and thematic topics she covers at the UG and PGT levels include: Digital inequalities; Contemporary Debates; Music and Climate Change; Music and A.I.; Gastromusicology and Food Cultures; Music, Power and Politics; Topics in World Music; Jazz; Introduction to Ethnomusicology; Music and Gender; Practical Performance; Musics of China; Introduction to Jazz; Sounds and Cultures of East Asia; Practical Musicianship; Creative Ensemble Performance; Music Media and Technology; Korean Percussion and Documenting Performance. She has teaching experience outside of the UK, including guest work with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Nanhua University (Taiwan).

Shzr Ee is also an active musician with a background in classical piano, jazz, Korean percussion, tango/ Balkan accordion, Chinese and Okinawan lutes (sanxian and sanshin), and the Chinese fiddle (erhu). Venues in which she has performed include the South Bank, O2 Academy, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Japan Matsuri Trafalgar Square, Rich Mix, the British Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Truman Brewery and The Arts House (Singapore). Shzr Ee also has experience as a print journalist in Asia, having worked for an extensive period of time as an arts correspondent for The Straits Times in Singapore, and thereafter for international magazines and newspapers on a freelance basis. She continues to contribute columns on music, film and culture to various media.

Additionally, Shzr Ee is engaged in arts and cultural advocacy in South/East Asia and the UK, having collaborated on projects with various arts and educational bodies in Singapore and the UK. She currently serves as a mentor for the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay Arts Residency Scheme, was academic consultant for London’s X-Drifts (formerly Southeast Asian Arts Festival), and a co-convenor of the Asian Performing Arts Forum. From 2010 - 2012, she contributed to the Singapore Arts Festival as a Dramaturg. A sought-after speaker (most recently on decolonisation, EDI issues and new digitalities), she participated in no less than 30 public and private presentations in 2021, including several keynote speeches.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


  • music, singapore, taiwan, chinese diaspora, politics, new media platforms, the internet

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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