Academic Publications

Dis-appearing the Yuruparí in Three Acts: Shamanic Musicology Without Musical Instruments, Women Laughter and Labor in Uaupés. (Forthcoming 2020)

Literature about Yuruparí instruments has revealed in great detail —even graphically— its mythical origins, shamanic functions and formal characteristics across Tukanoan indigenous communities of the Northwestern Amazon. By writing about these instruments from an ocular witness position, scholars have reproduced male-oriented politics of labor and gender in the region taking them as fixed and granted. In their analyses they have rarely taken sound recordings of these instruments as primary source for inquiry and interpretation, and have not discussed the proactive attitudes women have towards Yurupari instruments. Based on a sound oriented approach to recordings made during Tukanoan initiation rituals from the Uaupés region, this article attempts to dis-appear the Yuruparí from a visual imagery presenting how the aural occurrence of these instruments opens powerful reenactments in which the gap between myth and everyday life gets blurry. This otherwise approach to the Tukanoan Yurupari follows John Tresch and Emily I. Dolan’s (2013) new organological taxonomy informed by the ethical work instruments help to accomplish, and the world of situations in which they are assembled. The article argues that a close analysis of listening, understood as an intentional praxis densely grounded on communicative ideologies, can have a meaningful prevalence over the description of musical performance if we want to study how Tukanoans —especially women— interact with Yurupari instruments.


“Narrativity in Sound: A Sound-Centered Approach to Indigenous Amazonian Ways of Managing Relations of Alterity.” El Oído Pensante 5/2 (2017) 

Indigenous Amazonian peoples use musical sounds, natural sounds, and musicalized speech in a multitude of ways to manage transformational powers of movement, displacement, and historical engagement with various categories of “others”: mythic ancestor-spirits, spirits of the dead, animal and plant spirits, affines, neighboring indigenous peoples, and non-indigenous peoples. In this essay, we develop a sound-centered approach to relations of identity and alterity as a critical alternative to perspectivism, which privileges visual ways of knowing by characterizing relations with others as a process of “other-becoming” that allows humans to imaginatively see themselves from the other’s point of view and that reduces these processes to predatory relations of consuming, or being consumed by, “others”. The transformational powers of musical sounds and words go far beyond a mere shifting of perspective between humans and non-humans seen as predatory enemies. Instead, these musical processes are better understood as the creation of a shared musical-and-verbal sonic space of historical engagement that allows for acknowledging the otherness of the other and for effecting social transformations. The shift from myth-centered intellectualist approaches such as structuralism (or its contemporary manifestation as perspectivism) to sound-centered modes of theorizing has profound implications for the way research in ethnomusicology and linguistic anthropology is conceptualized and practiced. Ethnomusicologists are only beginning to grasp the full complexity of indigenous sonic worlds. We need to find ways of engaging these worlds by consciously taking into consideration our own practices of listening to, recording, andinterpretation of musical sounds; thus, understanding these practices as processes of creating sound-centered narratives in collaboration with our indigenous interlocutors. In this essay, we introduce the concept of ‘mike-positionality’, or the position of sound recordists as they interact with ethnographic subjects during inscription processes and as they participate in the broader processes of constructing sound-centered narratives. By calling attention to the analytical and creative dimensions of hearing, listening to, and recording human and non-human sounds, the concept of mike-positionality allows us to move toward an understanding of narrativity in sound as the basis for managing relations of alterity in Amazonia.

Keywords: Sonic ethnography, narrative practices, music-language interrelations, Northwestern Amazonia, media anthropology.

Article co-authored with Jonathan D. Hill. 

Spatial transformation of music practice in Istanbul: repositioning of subjectivities

This article analyzes changes in pedagogical practices of Sufi music in Istanbul based on socio-spatial reorganizations imposed by the Turkish State on the Ottoman society in the 1930s and their impact on the construction of current musicians’ subjectivities. Spatial secularization of Ottoman places intended to amend the social ties, redirecting those cultivated loyalties between the sonic and spiritual scenery towards academic agreements, promoted within new places for music learning produced by the Turkish State. This process, which was at the same time physical, material, social and cognitive of space, generated practices of resistance and struggles still unresolved, not only for the Turkish State, but for the modalities of subjective experience of teachers, musicians and audiences seeking to reposition themselves in the contemporary context of Istanbul.

Key words: Istanbul, urban transformation, ney, Turkish Republic, Sufism.


Training Kamish. Acoustic Ethnographies of Islam and Challenges of Sound in the Construction of Subjectivities

This paper discusses how religion through music is inscribed in different ways on people’s practices and specific speeches. First, it suggests an argument that explores sound thinking and its strategies related to the production of subjectivities, so that to apply it to the context of sacred music of Islam in general and particularly to the Ney’s flute teaching in Istanbul. Second, it shows the duo oratory and music teaching expressed by way of the interaction between students and teachers, which are suggested as a touchstone for the understanding of sound throughout the production of subjectivities in the spiritual Islam. Finally, the paper shows and discusses the frames of experience where the speeches coming from the Muslim mysticism are inscribed and where spiritual disciplines and their practitioners define their effectiveness.

Key words: anthropologies of Islam, musical thought, ney, Sufism.

Article in Spanish language. LINK:

Conference Presentations

“Dis-appearing the Yuruparí in Three Acts, or A Shamanic Organology Without Instruments: Woman Laughter, Radio Towers, and Sound Recordings in the Uaupés.” –– Paper presented at the XII Sesquiannual Conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America SALSA, Vienna, June 28, 2019.

“~Kiraiñia (Long Flutes).” –– Film in progress presented at the 2019 SEM Pre-Conference Symposium Film as Ethnography, Activism, and Public Work in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, November 7, 2019.

“Listening Exchange and Digital Media: Transfiguring Musical Repatriation in Vaupés” –– Paper presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology SEM, Albuquerque, November 17, 2018.

“Introducing Sufi ‘Music’ or Sufi Ways of ‘Listening’? –– Paper presented at the Audiovisual Arguments in Ethnomusicology 2nd Symposium of the ICTM Study Group in Audiovisual Ethnomusicology, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, June 29, 2018.

“Yuruparí in Stereo: Possibilities for Listening an Indigenous Colombia from the Northwestern.” –– Paper presented at the XX Congreso de la Asociación de Colombianistas, University of San Diego, San Diego, August 4, 2017.

“Listening Exchange through Digital Media at the Northwestern Amazon.” –– Paper presented at the XI Sesquiannual Conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America, Lima, July 22, 2017.

“Ottoman Muslim Musicians Drifting Through the Tanzimat Era From Sacred Beggars to Free Laborers.” –– Paper presented at the 12th Annual Pre-Conference of the American Association of Turkic Teachers, Boston November 17, 2016.

“Tataroko is the Butterfly, and its Music sounds as Follows: Orchestrated Sounds Preceded by Singular Voices in Vaupes, Colombia.” –– Paper presented at the X Sesquiannual Conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America, New Orleans January 6-9 2016.

“Spatial Transformation of Music Practice in Istanbul: Repositioning of Subjectivities” –– Paper presented at the MACSEM 2015 Annual Meeting, New York March 28-29 2015.

Invited papers

“Unfolding Musicking Archives at the Northwestern Amazon” –– Paper presented at the speaker series of the Center for Research Exchange and Collaboration in the Indigenous America (CRACIA) of the University of Maryland, Maryland, October 28, 2019.

“Long Flutes: Film Screening and Discussion” –– Film screening at the speaker series of the Center for Research Exchange and Collaboration in the Indigenous America (CRACIA) of the University of Maryland, Maryland, March 11, 2019.

“Middle Ears’ Ethnography” –– Paper presented at the Master program on Caribbean and Latin-American Musics at the University of Antioquia, May 2018.

“Ottoman Muslim Musicians Drifting Through the Tanzimat Era From Sacred Beggars to Free Laborers.” –– Paper presented at the speaker series of the Musicology Department of Medeniyet University, Istanbul, December 2016.

“Sufi Mystical Islamic Traditions and Music” –– paper and performance presented at the Diane C. Freedman, Center for International Understanding of the Community College of Philadelphia, April 5 2016.

“Sound, Voices and Technologies of Memory Among Tukanoans” –– Paper presented at the speaker series of the Center for Research Exchange and Collaboration in the Indigenous America (CRACIA) of the University of Maryland, Maryland, December 5 2015.

“Yazıdan Müziğe Kamişin Görünümleri Türk Müziği’ne Antropolojik Bakış Denemesi” –– Paper presented at the speaker series of the Müzikoloji Bölümü Etkinliği organized by the ITÜ Istanbul State Conservatory of Turkish Music, June 12 2008.

%d bloggers like this: