In this project I examine the interplay between spatiality and music among the Bajau (also: Bajau Laut, Sama Dilaut), a (formerly) boat-nomadic people in the Sulu and South China Seas. The Bajau are part of the ethnolinguistic group of the Austronesian-speaking Sama-Bajau, which lives scattered all over coastal regions between Malaysia, East Indonesia and the Philippines. They are predominantly Muslim, but at the same time they have retained strong ties with pre-Islamic ancestor worship. Within the Sulu Archipelago and the coastal areas of the South China Sea, they form an ethnic group in their own right. They face open discrimination through other regional ethnic groups, which without exception hold greater power economically and socially. The larger part of the Bajau has become or is becoming sedentary. The affiliations that this group feels are thus dynamic in every regard: spatially, religiously, socially. Moreover, Islam - point of reference for social identification - is a transnational web of meaning.
Following on-site research and a solid stocktaking of Bajau music, I will look at in how far the ambivalent meanings of the inherently dynamic Bajau spaces (of thinking) have been impacting their music-making practices, how Bajau music channels various discourses, and which role music has been playing with regards to Bajau identity negotiation and localization strategies.
Abels, B., W. van der Meer & B. Titus (forthcoming), Cultural Musicology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Abels, B. (ed.) (fortcoming, 2010), Austronesian Soundscapes. Performing Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Abels, B. (2008), Sounds of Articulating Identity. Tradition and Transition in the Music of Palau, Micronesia. Berlin: Logos.
Abels, B. (forthcoming, 2010) The Harmonium in North India. Musical and Social Aspects of an “Imported” Musical Instrument. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Ltd.
Abels, B. (ed.) (2003), Vom rechten Thon der Orgeln und anderer Instrumenten. Festschrift Christian Ahrens zum 60. Geburtstag. Bad Kostritz: Heinrich-Schütz-Haus.
Articles, Book Chapters
Abels, B. (forthcoming, 2010), ' Songs of Belonging. Vocal Music among the ‘Sea Nomads’ of the Sulu and Celebes Seas', in: H. Hussin & M. Santamaria (eds.), Sama Celebtrations: Ritual, Music and Dance on Southern Philippines and North Borneo. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya University Press.
Abels, B. (forthcoming, 2010), '‘Re-Placing Music?’ Musicology, Methodological Travels, Space Oddities', in: R. de Groot & V. Meelberg (eds.), The Future of Musicology, The Musicology of the Future. Amsterdam: Eburon.
Abels, B. (forthcoming, 2010), 'The Aesthetics of Sound and Musical Change on an Island in the Western Pacific', in: S. Ziegler (ed.), Proceedings of the 2008 Meeting of the Study Group for Historical Sources within the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM). Stockholm.
Abels, B. (forthcoming, 2011), 'Sounds of Self. Defining boundaries through music in a West Micronesian island society', in: Ş. Beşiroğlu (ed.), Representation in Music/Musical Representation. Istanbul.
Abels, B. (2008), 'The song and sound of omengeredakl: Musical aesthetics and vocal music in Palau', Pacific Studies 32: 3/4,1–23
Abels, B. (2008), 'Performing Palauan Identity: Popular Music in the Western Carolines', Research in New Zealand Performing Arts: Nga Mahi a Rehia no Aotearoa, 2:n.p.
Abels, B. (2007), 'Living the “Grand Context”: Chants in Palauan History', Musicology Australia XXIX:109–133
Abels, B. & J. Braasch (2006), 'Spectro-temporal analysis of Palauan chants', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 120:3028
Abels, B. (forthcoming, 2011), 'Ranting in English, Chanting in Sanskrit. Musikalische Adaptionsmechanismen als Spuren (post)kolonialer Identitätskonstruktion: Das Beispiel des Harmoniums in Indien' ['Ranting in English, Chanting in Sanskrit. Strategies of musical adaptation as traces of (post)colonial identity construction: the example of the harmonium in India'], in: D. Althaus (ed.), Musik und kulturelle Identität (“Music and Cultural Identity"). Weimar.
Abels, B. (2003), 'The Samvadini—A harmonium more Indian than the Indian harmonium?', Hefte des Arbeitskreises Harmonium in der GdO 5:26–32
Abels, B. (2002), 'Harmoniumbau in Indien' ['Harmonium-building in India'], Hefte des Arbeitskreises Harmonium in der GdO 4:27–33
Liempt, I. van (2003), ‘Towards a typology of smuggling operations’, paper presented at the workshop ‘New insights into human smuggling into Europe’ at the Eighth International Metropolis Conference, Vienna, 15 September 2003.
Abels, B. (2008), 'That bane of Indian music...”? The Harmonium in North Indian Music', paper presented at the 'International Conference India and the World: The Performing Arts', Amsterdam, 20–22 November 2008.
Abels, B. (2008), 'Aesthetic Practice and Identity in the Making: Micronesian Answers in the Ongoing Musical Conversation with Self', paper presented at the 'Conference of the European Society for Oceanists “Putting People First”: Intercultural Dialogue and Imagining the Future in Oceania', Verona, 10–12. July 2008
Abels, B. (2008), 'Who wants yesterday’s music? The Aesthetics of Sound and Musical Change on an island in the Western Pacific', , paper presented at the 2008 Meeting of the Study Group Historical Sources of Traditional Music, Stockholm, 21–25 May 2008
Abels, B. (2006), 'Music in Palau: Aesthetics of Sound from a Historical Perspective', , paper presented at the Meeting of the Study Group on Oceania within the International Council for Traditional Music, Honolulu, November 19–21, 2006
Abels, B. (2005), 'Sounds of Self. Defining Boundaries through Music in a West Micronesian Island Society', paper presented at the conference on 'Representation in Music/Musical Representation”', Istanbul Technical University, October 6–8, 2005
Abels, B. (2004), 'Ranting in English, Chanting in Sanskrit. Musikalische Adaptionsmechanismen als Spuren (post)kolonialer Identitätskonstruktion: Das Beispiel des Harmoniums in Indien' ['Ranting in English, Chanting in Sanskrit. Strategies of musical adaptation as traces of (post)colonial identity construction: the example of the harmonium in India'], , paper presented at the annual meeting of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung (Society for Musicology), Weimar, September 16–21, 2004
Abels, B. & H. Shin (2009), 'Betwixt and Between, L’Envers et L’Endroit: The Making of Place through Music in Asia', panel at ICAS 6 Think Asia! Daejon, Korea 6–9 August