UNESCO and the 2009 Throat Singing Controversy in Inner Mongolia, China”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm

The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology presents the NAZIR ALI JAIRAZBHOY COLLOQUIUM SERIES, ETHNOMU 291

featuring a lecture by Charlotte D’Evelyn

“The Power of Recognition: UNESCO and the 2009 Throat Singing Controversy in Inner Mongolia, China”

In this colloquium talk, D’Evelyn examines the case of hoomii in Inner Mongolia as a musical practice claimed across the borders of three contemporary nation-states. Although hoomii is now a pervasive practice around the globe (as seen through the proliferation of YouTube tutorials and significant participation of Westerners in international competitions), it has long been claimed as cultural property of “Outer” Mongolia and the Russian Republic of Tuva by state institutions and regional practitioners. China’s claims to hoomii as Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) through UNESCO in 2009, therefore, had dramatic ramifications for singers in China who became the “middle men” between a heated sense of betrayal by Mongolians and Tuvans and the nationalist agendas of the Chinese state.

The talk focuses on the stories of three hoomii practitioners in China as D’Evelyn traces the art form’s recent burgeoning in urban Hohhot from the 1990s to today. She explores the complex systems of boundary-making in Inner Asia that have occupied discussions of hoomii, in which notions of cultural proprietorship have led to sentiments of ethnic inclusion and exclusion. She will show the musical responses of three individuals as they use music to navigate between boundaries of regional and ethnic groupings.

About the speaker

Charlotte D’Evelyn received her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Hawai’i in 2013. She relocated to Los Angeles with her family in 2011 and is now working as ethnomusicology “adjunct extraordinaire” in the greater LA area. She was lecturer in ethnomusicoloy at UCLA in the fall and is currently lecturer in music cultures at California Institute of the Arts and in Asian and Pacific studies at Loyola Marymount University. Her research addresses ethnic representation and minority politics in the music of Mongols in Inner Mongolia, China. Her newest work is a collaborative project with Andrew Colwell and Robbie Beahrs to study the transnational practice of hoomii and politics of ownership in Mongolia, Tuva, and Inner Mongolia, a subject on which this presentation is based.


Admission Information: 

Open to the public and free of charge

Parking in Lot 2 — $12 (Hilgard and Westholme)


UCLA Schoenberg Hall, Room B544