Dr Shzr Tan

Shzr Tan

Dr Shzr Tan

Senior Lecturer

Phone: +44 1784 414451

Research interests

she/her or they/them

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 interested in impact-based issues of music and decolonisation, aspirational cosmopolitanism, and race discourses in music scenes around the world (including HE), with a view towards understanding marginality through the lenses of intersectionality.

In Sept 2021 she will begin an AHRC-funded Research & Engagement Grant project on Sounds of Precarious Labour: Acoustic Regimes of Transient Workers in Southeast Asia.

In June 2020 with Kiku Day she organised the webinar Orchestrating Isolation: Musical Interventions and Inequality in the COVID-19 Fallout, calling to attention 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. This online event was also interventionist while remaining reflective in its commitment to not simply ‘waiting it out’ at a time where the world is no longer going to be the same again, in spite—or because—of the fact that basic systems of society continue to run, tenuously and miraculously at unimaginable costs: COVID-19-related racism, inequality in healthcare provision, economic impacts of industry shutdowns (not least music and live entertainment), closing of national borders; devastation of livelihoods.

In 2019 with Mai Kawabata she initiated the project 'Cultural Imperialism and the 'New Yellow Peril' in Western Art Music', which has gained considerable traction among East Asian music communities around the world and turned her towards more activist-informed scholarship and teaching.

Other projects she is developing include musical theorizing on decolonization and issues of cultural appropriation, including 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 in a development/ impact-based ethnographic project with transient workers in Southeast Asia, in exploration of Islamic soundscapes in Chinese transnational contexts.

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 currently teaches Music, Ethnomusicology and Performance modules in undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Royal Holloway. Topics which she covers include: 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 is currently teaching for a term at the Shanghai Conservatory (Autumn 2017), and will thereafter be in East Asia for fieldwork (2017 - 2018).

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). Some of the venues in which she has performed include the South Bank, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Japan Matsuri, Rich Mix, the British Museum, the 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, she is engaged in arts and cultural advocacy in East Asia, 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. She is the current Director of the Postgraduate Taught Courses at the Royal Holloway's Music Department, and the Director of Equalit, Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Performing and Digital Arts/

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