First Conference of the IMS Study Group, “Global History of Music”

Music in the Pacific World: Change and Exchange Through Sound and Memory


Jen-yen Chen (National Taiwan University, Taiwan)
David R. M. Irving (ICREA & Institució Milà i Fontanals de Recerca en Humanitats–CSIC, Spain)


Graduate Institute of Musicology
National Taiwan University
Taipei, Taiwan


15-17 October 2021

The year 2021 marks half a millennium since the Pacific Ocean entered a new era of global exchange, involving people from all parts of the globe, including sailors, slaves, merchants, and missionaries. The world’s largest ocean, the Pacific is home to diverse cultures within its many islands and along its borders with continents; the performing arts and their associated epistemological systems underwent immense transformations as societies came into contact with representatives of cultures they had not previously known, and as travel and trade intensified over large distances. Music and dance in their manifold forms of expression played important roles in articulating local identities and resisting colonialism or embracing change. Individual musicians and inanimate musical objects became liminal agents in negotiating the symbolic representations of the Pacific far from their geographical origins. Although the name of the ocean has been intended since 1520 to denote peace and fine weather, war and conflict often entered into this narrative.

Over the past decades, musicologists have begun to examine the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as enclosed networks of exchange, circulation, and cultural transformation. There have also been many intensive and detailed studies of Pacific Island cultures from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. However, the Pacific Ocean—perhaps because of its size, greater than all continents combined—needs further scholarly consideration as a conceptual unit, bringing the coasts of the continents that surround it (the ‘Pacific Rim’) into productive dialogue with cultural experiences on the Pacific Islands themselves. This conference aims, in the quincentennial year of the first recorded east-to-west crossing of the Pacific, to reflect critically on the musical repercussions of global intercultural interactions within and across this ocean, for half a millennium. The organizers invite contributions from the fields of historical musicology, ethnomusicology, organology, anthropology, economic history, historical linguistics, and any other relevant disciplines—as well as from interdisciplinary perspectives—to consider how cultural transitions have taken place since the opening of the Pacific to global and long-distance influences since 1521. Early career scholars are especially encouraged to make proposals.

This conference will take place in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan’s rich history of encounters among Austronesian Aboriginal, Han Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese peoples make it a fitting locale for an international scholarly gathering on the theme of changes and exchanges.

Note: Because of the continuing uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of this conference will make contingency plans for an online event, in case an in-person gathering in Taipei is not possible.

Keynote Speaker:
Gabriel Solis (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA) 

Program Committee: 
Birgit Abels (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany) 
Hyun Kyong Chang (University of Sheffield, UK) 
Jen-yen Chen (National Taiwan University, Taiwan) 
María Alexandra Iñigo Chua (University of Santo Tomás, Philippines) 
Brian Diettrich (Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand) 
David R. M. Irving (ICREA & IMF-CSIC, Spain) 

Nancy Yunhwa Rao (Rutgers University, USA)


Abstracts due: 15 February 2021

Notification of paper acceptance: 15 March 2021

The language of this conference is English. The organisers invite proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes (followed by 10 minutes of discussion) as well as for round-table sessions of 90 minutes’ duration, consisting of three to four presentations (including discussion). A roundtable proposal should include an overall abstract as well as individual abstracts for each presentation.

Please send your proposals (max. 300 words per abstract) as a Word document (.docx) attachment by email to:

Along with each abstract (not including overall roundtable abstracts), please include the following details, with the headings:

  • Name
  • Institution (where applicable)
  • Postal address
  • Phone
  • E-mail Address

All abstracts must be received by 23:59UTC on 15 February 2021.

Registration Fees

in New Taiwanese dollars (NT)

Early bird (before August 15, 2021):

IMS members: NT2,000

Non-members: NT2,750

Students and other participants earning less than the equivalent of US$40,000/year: NT1,500


Standard registration:

IMS members: NT2,500

Non-members: NT3,250

Students and other participants earning less than the equivalent of US$40,000/year: NT2,000 


If the conference converts to a virtual event owing to travel difficulties caused by COVID-19, then a reduced fee structure will be put in place. Also, if the original plans for an in-person gathering in Taipei remain unimpeded, we nevertheless plan to reserve a limited number of slots for online presentations by participants who are unable to travel due to the pandemic. Requests to make virtual presentations must be made following the notification of paper acceptance, and will be considered by the program committee.

A registration payment system will be opened following the announcement of accepted abstracts on March 15, 2021.