Treadgold Lecture

Donald W. Treadgold Memorial Lecture 2016


Tanya Merchant on “Courtyard, Conservatory, and Concert Hall: Women Performing Musical Nationalism in Uzbekistan”

Women Musicians of Uzbekistan

Women are at the forefront of professional musical endeavors in Uzbekistan in every available genre: traditional music, arranged folk music, Western classical music, popular music, and wedding music. With popular images as hearth keepers and tradition bearers, women have been a crucial humanizing symbol of the Uzbek nation since the Soviet era. Examining Uzbekistan’s national project through an ethnomusicological lens, it is possible to see the commonalities between Soviet-era women’s liberation movements and Uzbekistan’s post-independence era plan to consolidate and publicize a cogent national identity. Interviews with women who have come to positions of power in Uzbek musical institutions (conservatory faculty, deans, orchestra conductors, and opera directors) draw out the diversity of visions of the Uzbek nation and the many ways that women take to the stage in support of them. Soviet projects that brought women onto concert stages have created an impressive legacy of women’s music that allows female professional musicians to shape the sound of nationalism in contemporary Uzbek musical life.

Tanya Merchant is an Associate Professor of Music and ethnomusicologist on the music faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include music’s intersection with issues of nationalism, gender, identity, and the post-colonial situation. With a geographical focus on Central Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the Balkans, she has conducted fieldwork in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is an avid performer on the Central Asian dutar and the baroque bassoon, and has given concerts in the U.S., England, and Uzbekistan. Tanya received her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology with a concentration in women’s studies from UCLA. Recent publications include her book, Women Musicians of Uzbekistan: From Courtyard to Conservatory, published by the University of Illinois Press, and articles on Uzbek popular, folk, and traditional music that appear in journals such as Image and Narrative, Cahiers de Musiques Traditionnelles, and Popular Music in Society.

Treadgold Lecture 2016