About

stirr-headshot-1

नेपालीमा अन्तरवार्ता पढ्नुहोस – नेपाली पत्रकारहरू यहि हेर्नुहोला

Anna Stirr is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii Manoa. She is the author of Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal (Oxford University Press, 2017), which won the 2019 Bernard S. Cohn Prize for first books on South Asia from the Association for Asian Studies. 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. She has also taught at Oxford University, Leiden University, and the New School. Her research focuses on music, dance, language, intimacy, and politics in South Asia, particularly in Nepal and the Himalayan region. She performs Nepali folk music as a singer, flutist, and percussionist.

Singing Across Divides Cover

Prior to joining the UH faculty, Anna 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. Her current projects deal with music, love, intimacy, and politics in Nepal. Her first book, Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal, 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. Her current research project 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. 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.

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 Hindustani classical singing with Prabhu Raj Dhakal in Kathmandu 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. During the course of research on Nepali music Anna learned to perform Nepali folk and dohori songs, improvising rhyming couplets in the Nepali language. She also studied the madal drum more formally with Kharka Bahadur Buda Magar. She has had the good fortune to be invited to perform dohori and Nepali instrumental folk music around the world. In recognition of her performance and research, the Ali Miya Lok Wangmaya Pratisthan (Ali Miya Folk Literature Academy) in Pokhara, Nepal, awarded her the 2016 Ali Miya Prize.

Singing Across Divides Cover

Stirr’s ethnography of Nepali dohori performance manages to take something quite ordinary–a rural Nepali singing tradition–and do something extraordinary with it: tell a highly readable story about gender, nationhood, political agency, honor, caste, identity, and rural-urban transitions. Dohori, in Stirr’s telling, emerges as an anti-structural challenge to patriarchal marriage norms and caste endogamy. Stirr beautifully links quotidian concerns of love, sex, and marriage–particularly in the lives of non-elite Nepali women–to broad social forms around rural-urban migration, violence, and intimacy in Nepal, following the links formed among these subjects in dohori performance and its contexts.

From engaging the pleasure of shared music and the play of words to revealing the daring love that crosses many divides, Stirr stands both inside and outside the world she studies, fully engaging the dialogical nature of dohori in the very academic enterprise of the ethnomusicologist. Innovative in approach, bold in presentation, and lyrically delightful in composition, Singing Across Divides is a fitting recipient of the 2019 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize.

Association for Asian Studies

2019 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize for Singing Across Divides

नेपाली लोकगीतमा विद्यावारिधि अनुसन्धानरत तुलसी प्रवासले आनाको जीवनी र व्यक्तित्वबारे जानकारी गराउँदै नेपाली दोहोरी गीतको अथक साधक रहेको बताए । नाम र नागरिकताले आना अमेरिकी भए पनि प्राज्ञिक कर्मक्षेत्र र रुचिका दृष्टिले पूरै नेपाली बनिसकेको उनको दाबी थियो । ‘नेपाली लोकदोहोरी गीत, त्यसको अध्ययन अनुसन्धान तथा नेपाली लोकसंस्कृति र लोक वाङ्मयको उन्नयनमा उनी समर्पित छन्,’ उनले भने । (कान्तिपुर, फाल्गुन १३, २०७२)

Lalprasad Sharma, Kantipur