Project People


Rachel Harris (Principal Investigator)

Reader in the music of China and Central Asia, SOAS, University of London

Rachel Harris is an ethnomusicologist teaching in the Department of Music at SOAS. Her research focuses on musical and ritual practice amongst the Uyghurs. She is the author of Singing the Village: memories, music and ritual amongst the Sibe of Xinjiang (2004) and The Making of a Musical Canon in Chinese Central Asia (2008), as well as many journal articles and book chapters. She has co-edited two volumes: Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia (2007), and Gender in Chinese Music (2013). Her research interests include digital mediation and global musical flows; nationalism, gender, and identity politics; ritual and affect, and Islamic soundscapes. She is actively engaged with outreach projects relating to Central Asian and Chinese music, including recordings, musical performance, and consultancy.


Maria Jaschok (Co-Investigator)
Research Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University

Dr Maria Jaschok (Ph.D., SOAS, U. of London), Research Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall (LMH), University of Oxford, and Director of the International Gender Studies Centre at LMH. She is also affiliated to the Contemporary China Studies Programme, University of Oxford. Her research interests are in women/gender studies approaches to researching the lives of women in past and present Asian contexts. She sees it as her important task to ‘restore women to history and history to women.’ In this light, oral history and individual life testimonies have become crucial tools of her ethnographic research. Her regional specialisation concerns Asia, with particular reference to China. Issues central to her research are, for example, religion, gender and agency; gendered constructions of memory; feminist ethnographic practice; marginality and identity; and gendered spirituality. She continues to be involved in on-going collaborative research in central China and also contributes to an international research project on the impact of urban planning and modernization on gendered communal and spatial identity, including religious identity, in Greater Shanghai. Among other publications, the recently published monograph entitled Women, Religion and Space in China, co-authored with Shui Jingjun (Routledge, 2011) forms the sequel to a first-ever in-depth study of female-led Islamic traditions in China, The History of Women’s Mosques in Chinese Islam (Curzon, 2000).


Ha Guangtian (Research Fellow)
Post-doctoral Research Fellow, SOAS, University of London

Ha Guangtian received his PhD in anthropology from Columbia University in 2014. His dissertation research examines the intersection of religion, ethnicity and gender among the Hui Muslims in China, focusing particularly upon how the structurally ambiguous positions attributed to the Han/Hui woman function to facilitate discourses about the “nativization” of Islam in a Sino-centric social world. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Henan Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, with research experience that covers a variety of denominations of Islam in China. He is currently working among the Jahriyya Sufis in China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region as part of the Sounding Islam in China project. His research interests include anthropology of religion (particularly Islam and Sufism), media studies, anthropology of the senses (sound and smell), gender and sexuality studies, and politics of difference in late socialism.

Mu Qian

PhD Student, Music Department, SOAS, University of London

MU QIAN is a PhD student in ethnomusicology at SOAS, focusing on “Trance and Uyghur Religious Music”. He got his Master’s Degree in musicology from China Conservatory of Music, and is the Chinese translator of Alan P. Merriam’s book Anthropology of Music (Renmin Yinyue Chubanshe, Beijing, 2010). He has given lectures at University of California, Los Angeles; University of Wisconsin-Madison; and University of Maryland, College Park. Mu Qian is also a performing arts curator and has served as Music Director of World Music Shanghai (2013) and MOMA Post Mountain Music-Art Festival (Beijing, 2013), as well as a presenter at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (Washington D.C., 2014).



Ruard Absaroka (Project Assistant)

RUARD ABSAROKA is an AHRC-funded PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London, where he has lectured on Music and Traditions of East Asia, Pop and Politics in East Asia as well as general Ethnomusicology courses. Following fieldwork in China his doctoral dissertation focuses on urban musical geographies and networks in Shanghai. His research interests include the impact of digital technologies on informal independent musicking, soundscape studies, sensory ethnography, and the percussion musics of China. He is an active musician in London, working in various capacities, including as a Chinese opera instrumentalist and leading a jiangnan sizhu ensemble.



Aziz Isa (Research Assistant & Web Master)

AZIZ ISA works in London as a translator and web designer. He is a poet and independent scholar, and has published many Uyghur language poems and articles ( Some of his work has been translated into English, and he has co-authored articles in Inner Asia and Central Asian Survey. He is a founder of a London based Uyghur music group the London Uyghur Ensemble ( and a board member of the International PEN Uyghur Centre (





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