Post announcement

Research Studentship in the Department of Music – Sounding Islam in China:

A multi-sited ethnographic study


Deadline: 15 May 2014

SOAS is delighted to offer a three-year full-time research studentship within the Department of Music as part of the Leverhulme-funded research project ‘Sounding Islam in China: a multi-sited ethnographic study’.

The Studentship provides remission of tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,590. The position is also open to students paying the higher (overseas) tuition fees; in this case the remaining tuition fees payable will normally be deducted from the maintenance allowance.

The project ‘Sounding Islam in China’ aims to provide new, ethnographically grounded research into the changing nature of Islamic belief and practice in contemporary China. We argue that a focus on the local production of meaning provides clearer insights into the nature and ideology of religious practice. The project is essentially interdisciplinary in nature, crossing boundaries between ethnomusicology, anthropology, history, religion, and sinology. The approach indicates a fieldwork-based approach to sound, experience and meaning, seeking to move beyond the habitual academic focus on text-based and visual narratives. The project will focus on sounded religious practices, including the call to prayer, Qur’anic recitation, prayers, sermons, life-cycle and calendrical rituals, and other forms of religious expressive culture, encompassing ‘live’ practices and the mediated transmission of religious sounds and ideologies.

A series of questions are core to the enquiry: as new ‘visions of transnational ethics’ into Muslim communities across China, by what channels do new Islamic ideologies flow into China, and what actors take on the role of propagating them?  The state seeks to orchestrate the Chinese Islamic soundscape, through controls, staged competitions, and campaigns, and by promoting some religious sounded practices as ‘intangible cultural heritage’. What changes are occurring in ways of listening to these reconfigured practices? How are practitioners of local forms of Islam responding to the twin pressures from reformists and the state?

The successful candidate will devise and conduct independent ethnographic research on a defined aspect of music and Islam in China of their own choosing and relevant to the project remit. (S)he will be supervised by the principal investigator, Dr Rachel Harris, and work closely with the other members of the project research team. The Department of Music will provide training in methodologies and theoretical approaches through access to appropriate research training courses.

(S)he will be expected to conduct periods of intensive fieldwork in China, to participate in, and help to organise project seminars and workshops, contribute to the project website, and provide general project support as required including uploading data onto the project web-based activity log, and collating and sharing information and news with other researchers.

Candidate Criteria
  • Applicants should possess or expect to be awarded a good Masters Degree in ethnomusicology. Other disciplinary backgrounds such as anthropology, religious studies or Sinology will be considered if the applicant possesses relevant experience and skills.  They should ideally have relevant linguistic competence, field experience in China, and interests in the anthropology of sound/sensory anthropology or sound studies.
  • Applicants must have an offer of admission to the full-time Music Research degree programme at SOAS by the scholarship application deadline.
  • Open to Home/EU and overseas applicants.

For an informal discussion of ideas for your research project proposal please contact Dr Rachel Harris, Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology: Email:

Candidate Assessment
  • Candidates will be assessed on academic merit and relevant experience by a Selection Panel consisting of three academic members.
  • The assessment of your application will be based on the information provided in your application and in your on-line application for admission.  Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statement and other relevant information.
Scholarship Application Deadline
  • Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (UK local time) on 15 May 2014.
  • Late or incomplete  applications will not be considered
  • Applicants applying for scholarships must also submit an application for admission well in advance.
Notifications of Results

Successful candidates will be notified by e-mail regarding the outcome of their studentship application by the end of June. If you have not heard from us by the end of June, you should assume that your studentship application was unsuccessful.

Studentship Application Procedures

You must follow two steps:

  • STEP 1:  You must apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form
  • STEP 2: In addition to the on-line scholarship application, applicants must ALSO submit a complete on-line application for admission. Please ensure you indicate in the statement of your on-line application for admission that you wish to be considered for the Leverhulme-funded research project “Sounding Islam in China: a multi-sited ethnographic study”.

A complete application for admission includes transcripts, an includes transcripts, an explanation of the grading system for any degrees obtained outside of the UK, two references, CV, research proposal and a personal statement. The panel will be considering your scholarship application TOGETHER with your online application for admission.  Please note that complete application for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year.  You should be prepared to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods.

For enquiries, please contact:

Scholarships Officer
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7074 5094/5091

SOAS, University of London Website:—sounding-islam-in-china-a-multi-sited-ethnographic-study.html

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