Subject: Speaker Series - November 11st 5:30 PM, Natsagdorj library

ACMS Speaker Series
Monolithic Narratives, Culturalism, and a Forgotten River:
How a Way of Sounding became
a Thing of Musical Culture
called Xöömií (a.k.a., Throat-singing)

Speaker: Andrew Colwell
5:30 PM, Tuesday - November 11st, 2014, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

         Mongol xöömií, or what English speakers label “throat-singing,” has become Mongolia’s most iconic sonic symbol among foreign publics thanks to the cultural activism and innovative performance of key practitioners from Xovd province’s Chandman’ district, starting in the 1950s. As numerous scholarly or popular histories of the vocal practice’s “cultural development” relate, these efforts are primarily responsible for rendering xöömií a socialist “people’s art” and then later a democratic “cultural heritage.” But less acknowledged are the practices of herders elsewhere in Mongolia who have escaped the cultural spotlight due to geographic isolation, intentional neglect, or even government suppression. Relying upon recent critical publications and my own ongoing dissertation research, this lecture traces the implications of their compelling absences and intriguing presences, which persist in archival records, elders’ recollections, and the sounding of a melodious river called Eev. 
About the Presenters

 Speaker: Andrew Colwell is an ethnomusicologist, musician, and PhD candidate at Wesleyan University who is currently conducting research for his dissertation on the global circulation of Mongol xöömií or "throat-singing." He is also a guest scholar at the Mongolian Science Academy's History Section. His focus is on the encounter and translation of imported and inherited performance practices during and after socialism towards the creation of a worldly Mongolian sensibility. In 2005 he moved to Ulaanbaatar for two years, studying xöömií performance independently as well as performing in local rock, death metal, traditional, and experimental music scenes. His research has been funded by a Fulbright IIE Research Grant, an ACMS Field Research Fellowship, and a Portable VIII Fellowship for language study. 

For more information visit the ACMS website

Thank you to the American Corner and the Natsagdorj Library for sponsoring this event.


The American Center for Mongolian Studies is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies.

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