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)




14-17 October 2021

Because of the ongoing and rapidly changing pandemic situation, the organizers of this conference have decided to arrange a virtual event. Please check this website periodically for updates.

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.

  • 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 program committee has completed its review of abstracts, and all authors have been notified of the results. A conference schedule will be posted shortly.

Registration Fees

in New Taiwanese dollars (NT)

Early bird (before August 15, 2021):

IMS members: NT1,000

Non-members: NT1,250

Students and other participants earning less than the equivalent of US$40,000/year: NT750


Standard registration:

IMS members: NT1,250

Non-members: NT1,500

Students and other participants earning less than the equivalent of US$40,000/year: NT1000

A registration payment system will be opened as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.