Dr Shzr Tan

Research interests

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Shzr Ee Tan is a Senior Lecturer and ethnomusicologist (with a specialism in Sinophone and Southeast Asian worlds) at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is committed to decolonial and EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) work in music and the performing arts, with interests in how race discourses intersect problematically with class, gender and recent debates on posthuman digitalities, climate change and multispecies thinking.

Shzr Ee is also EDI Director for the School of Performing and Digital Arts at Royal Holloway, where she has initiated campaigns including an ongoing Safe Space Discussion Series, and workshops 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 co-mentoring 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. 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.

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 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/ new imperialist influence. In her broader work on decolonization she stakes a commitment to collaborative ethnography.

She is also exploring alternative ontologies and pedagogies 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 aboriginal 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).

Shzr Ee is current Director of Postgraduate Studies (Taught) at the RHUL Music Department. Modules she covers include: Music and Climate Change; Music and A.I.; Music, Power and Politics; Topics in World Music; Jazz; Introduction to Ethnomusicology; Contemporary Debates in Music; Music and Gender; Practical Performance; Musics of China; Sounds and Cultures of East Asia; Practical Musicianship; Creative Ensemble Performance; Music Media and Technology; Korean Percussion and Documenting Performance. From 2015 - 2017, she was the Director of the Postgraduate Taught Programmes at RHUL's Music Department. She has teaching experience outside of the UK, including guest work with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Shzr Ee is also an active musician with a background in classical piano, 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 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.

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