Mr James Butterworth

Supervised by

Research interests

*This page refers to activity in the period 2009-2014.


I am an ethnomusicologist and global popular music scholar, with particular expertise in Peru and Latin America. I completed my AHRC-funded Master’s in 2010 and my AHRC-funded PhD in 2014, with a thesis titled 'Andean Divas: Emotion, Ethics and Intimate Spectacle in Peruvian Huayno Music'. I presented some of this research as a paper at the SEM annual meeting in Indianapolis (2013), where I was awarded the LACSEM paper prize.


DISSERTATION ABSTRACT: My thesis examines the self-fashioning and public images of the star divas that perform Peruvian huayno music (a popular-folkloric Andean genre). These divas are both multi-authored stories about a person as well as actually existing individuals, occupying a space between myth and reality. I consider how huayno divas inhabit and perform a range of subject positions as well as how fans and detractors fashion their own sense of self in relation to such categories of experience. I argue that the ways in which divas and fans inhabit and reject different subject positions carry strong emotional and ethical implications. Combining multi-sited fieldwork in the music industry with analyses of songs, media representations and public discourses, I locate huayno divas in the context of Andean migration and attendant narratives about suffering, struggle, empowerment and success. I analyse huayno performances as intimate spectacles, which generate acts of both empathy and voyeurism towards the genre’s star performers (Chapter 2). The tales of romantic suffering and moral struggle contained in huayno songs, which provide a key source of audience engagement, are brought to life through the voices and bodies of huayno divas (Chapter 3). The ethical self-fashioning of these female stars simultaneously embodies Catholic-influenced images of long-suffering women as well as images of hard-working and entrepreneurial neoliberal subjects (Chapter 4). From certain perspectives, huayno divas contest dominant gender discourses through their images of hard work and their symbolic and affective dominance of public space. However, as figures that privilege sentiment over sexuality and inhabit images of ‘modernity’ and ‘success’ while continuing to affirm their status as native Andeans, I argue that huayno divas largely conform to notions of propriety (Chapter 5). Drawing on theories and methods from ethnomusicology, anthropology and critical theory, my thesis contributes an ethnographic and music-centred approach to interdisciplinary debates about stardom, neoliberalism and public intimacy.


I also conducted ethnographic research on the production and circulation of folkloric VCD music videos in Huancayo, Peru between 2010 and 2012.


In 2012-14 I was the Student Representative on the committee of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology. During my time at Royal Holloway I also organised a range of panels, seminars and conferences, including:


(2014) CO-ORGANISER of ‘Music, Circulation, and the Public Sphere’: Joint Conference of the Royal Musical Association and British Forum for Ethnomusicology, University of Manchester, 11 April.


(2013) CO-ORGANISER of ‘Music, Labour and Neoliberalism’: Panel at the Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, Indianapolis, November.


(2013) ORGANISER of ‘Love and Sentimentalism in Popular Music: An International and Interdisciplinary Symposium’, Royal Holloway University of London, 27-8 June.


(2012-13) CONVENOR of the Latin American Research Group Seminar Series, Royal Holloway University of London.


(2012) CO-ORGANISER of ‘Music and Movement’: British Forum for Ethnomusicology National Graduate Conference, Institute for Music Research, London, 12-14 September.


(2012) ORGANISER and CHAIR of ‘Re-evaluating “Peruvianess” Musically: Locating Popular Music in Lima’s Social Transformations’: Panel at the Latin American Studies Association Conference, San Francisco, May.

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