Anna Stirr is Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She holds a BA in music and religious studies from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and an MA, MPhil, and PhD in ethnomusicology from Columbia University. Prior to joining the UH faculty she held postdoctoral positions in ethnomusicology and anthropology at Oxford University, and in Asian Studies at Leiden University. As a teacher, Anna is excited to introduce students to the diverse worlds of Asian performing arts, and to broader themes in Asian cultures and history, from various perspectives in the social sciences and humanities.
Anna’s research focuses on South Asia, particularly on Nepal and the Himalayan region. She is currently working on two projects that deal with love, intimacy, and politics in Nepal. The first looks at improvised dohori question-answer songs as culturally intimate, gendered expressions of ideas of nation, belonging, and heritage, within a cycle of migration and media circulation that spans the globe. The second chronicles the history of Nepal’s politically oppositional “progressive song” from the 1960s to the present, with a focus on ideas of love, development, and communist thought as interrelated ways of imagining a better future. Articles from these projects have appeared in various journals and edited volumes. Anna also maintains active research interests in the relationship between music, religion, politics and public culture in South Asia and the Himalayas.
Along with teaching and researching about music, Anna is also active as a performer. After a bachelor’s degree in western classical flute performance, she has studied Hindustani classical bansuri flute with Steve Gorn and Jeevan Ale, and has learned the folk style of bansuri performance through musical interaction with many Nepali performers during her fieldwork. As a singer, she has studied the Hindustani classical tradition with Prabhu Raj Dhakal in Nepal and Ustad Mehboob Nadeem in London, and she learned Nepali folk and dohori song as she learned the flute styles, in the informal oral tradition. She also studied the madal drum more formally with Khadka Bahadur Budha Magar. She is working on compiling and translating the Nepali folk music teaching materials created by her teachers as well as the late musicologist Subi Shah.