ACC is proud to feature the recent works of alumni Laurel Kendall (ACC 2010), Benille Priyanka (ACC 2008), Eric Schorr (ACC 2005), and Meredith Schweig (ACC 2009). These publications and media projects represent the continued development of ACC grant initiatives and discoveries during and after each grant period. To share alumni projects with ACC, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurel Kendall (ACC 2010)
About Kendall: Laurel Kendall is Curator of Asian Ethnographic Collections at the American Museum of Natural History, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and Adjunct Professor in Anthropology at Columbia University. Kendall's acquaintance with South Korea began in 1970 as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer where a chance encounter with female shamans prompted her subsequent anthropological fieldwork. Her Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMF: South Korean Popular Religion in Motion (2009) offers a thirty-year perspective on people and activities described in Shamans, Housewives, and other Restless Spirits: Women in Korean Ritual Life (1985) and The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman (1988). Kendall has also written on gendered perceptions of tradition and modernity, most notably in Getting Married in Korea (1996) and as the editor of Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea (2002).
Mediums and Magical Things
Kendall's recent work concerns the emergent field of material religion, most particularly the use of ensouled images in Hindu and Buddhist practice and in the work of shamans and spirit mediums. Her Mediums and Magical Things: Statues, Paintings and Masks in Asian Places (2021) brings Korean popular religious practice into dialogue with Vietnam, Myanmar, and Bali, Indonesia.
From the University of California Press: “Statues, paintings, and masks—like the bodies of shamans and spirit mediums—give material form and presence to otherwise invisible entities, and sometimes these objects are understood to be enlivened, agentive on their own terms. This book explores how magical images are expected to work with the shamans and spirit mediums who tend and use them in contemporary South Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bali, and elsewhere in Asia. It considers how such things are fabricated, marketed, cared for, disposed of, and sometimes transformed into art-market commodities and museum artifacts.”
Read more about Kendall and Mediums and Magic Things here
Benille Priyanka (ACC 2008)
About Dr. Priyanka: Benille Priyanka received his Ph.D. in Archaeology and M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from UCLA. He was awarded the UCLA Chancellor’s award for postdoctoral research for his work on the so far not understood "Indus script" of the Indus civilization. He has also engaged in reading the remaining collection of the unread Sigiriya poems and other records (cir. 8th to 10th century, written in Old Sinhalese Language) scribbled on the so called Mirror Wall at the World Heritage Archaeological Site of Sigiriya from Sri Lanka. He continued the monumental work previously done by the eminent Sri Lankan professor Dr. Senarath Paranavithana (who initially deciphered 685 poems from the Sigiriya Mirror Wall which were published in 1956). Dr. Priyanka was able to decipher another 800 Sigiriya poems and short records from the Sigiriya Mirror Wall which were published in 2010. The book he published titled "Recently Deciphered Records from the Mirror Wall at Sigiriya" (Godage International Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Colombo 10, Sri Lanka) was awarded Sri Lanka’s State Literary Award in 2011 for the best academic publication of the year 2010. His last visit from Los Angeles to Sigiriya, Sri Lanka in 2009 to finalize his research at the Sigiriya Mirror Wall was supported by a grant from ACC. He currently continues his research on Sri Lankan and Indian archaeology and the Indus civilization.
Recent Observations on the Indus Seals and Inscriptions
In 2022 Dr. Priyanka published Recent Observations on the Indus Seals and Inscriptions. The book analyzes the Indus Civilization -- a Bronze Age civilization in the northwestern regions of South Asia -- and previously undeciphered Indus inscriptions. The book adds to the scholarly conversation on "Indus Script", positing the symbols that make up "Indus Script" do no encode an underlying Indus language, but rather symbolically and pictographically represent agricultural seeds, plants, agricultural fields, different numbers relating to agricultural rituals etc. The book also proposes that the buffalo horned divinities from Mohenjodaro and the other seemingly divine figures depicted on Indus seals and tablets are different representations of the mother goddess of the Indus civilization.
Read Recent Observations on the Indus Seals and Inscriptions here
Eric Schorr (ACC 2005)
About Schorr: In addition to composing art songs, Eric writes music for theater, television and film. One of his signature projects includes "Tokio Confidential," an original music-theater piece for which he wrote the music, lyrics and libretto. It premiered at Atlantic Stage 2 in New York City, and a recording was released by Broadway Records. The New York Post said, “This lovely chamber musical about a Civil War widow whose life’s transformed by a Japanese tattoo artist reveals Eric Schorr, its composer/librettist, as a talent to watch. The romance between the central characters is touchingly etched. Running through it all are Schorr’s elegant score and graceful lyrics.” The New York Times said, “Tokio Confidential has plenty to recommend it, not least a plush and inviting score.” Eric was commissioned by Virginia Stage Company to write the music, lyrics and libretto for "The Rising Sea," a musical about the intersection of science, poetry and climate change, that had its world premiere in Norfolk. The Virginian-Pilot called the piece “the kind of adventure that live theater should be” and WHRO called it “sheer magic…brilliant, absolutely brilliant.” You can read more about Eric’s work at www.ericschorr.com
NEW YORK PRETENDING TO BE PARIS
"Beautiful...Stunning" — The West Side Spirit
In the Summer of 2022, Schorr released, NEW YORK PRETENDING TO BE PARIS. The CD is a collection of thirteen poems by six contemporary poets that Schorr transformed into art songs, exquisitely performed by three acclaimed opera singers. The diversity of the poems’ styles and subject matter is reflected in the album’s varied musical vocabulary. Always tonal, the music veers from Neo-Romantic to jazz to chanson to bossa nova, and the singers are accompanied by a first-class ensemble of acoustic instruments.
The physical CD can be ordered directly from the label, Albany Records, or Amazon. It can also be purchased on iTunes or streamed on Spotify. The CD booklet is also available for digital download on Schorr’s website.
Meredith Schweig (ACC 2009)
About Schweig: Meredith Schweig’s research explores twentieth- and twenty-first-century popular musics of East Asia, with a particular emphasis on narrative, gender, and cultural politics in post-authoritarian Taiwan. An assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Emory, she is the author of Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan (University of Chicago Press, 2022). A second book project in process refracts questions about vocality, agency, and transmedia storytelling through a study of global pop icon Teresa Teng. Schweig was the recipient of a 2020-2021 Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant to Taiwan. Previously, she was a 2013-2015 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and Hyperstudio Fellow at MIT. She has received additional fellowships and grants from Fulbright IIE, Fulbright-Hays, the Asian Cultural Council, Whiting Foundation, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Chiu Family Foundation, Emory University Research Committee, and the Emory University Provost’s Research Fund. Schweig’s 2016 article “‘Young Soldiers, One Day We Will Change Taiwan’: Masculinity Politics in the Taiwan Rap Scene” was awarded both the Marcia Herndon Prize and the Jaap Kunst Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology. Her 2014 article "Hoklo Hip-Hop: Re-signifying Rap as Local Narrative Tradition in Taiwan” was awarded the Rulan Chao Pian Publication Prize from the Association for Chinese Music Research.
Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan
In the Fall of 2022 Schweig published Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan (University of Chicago Press). The book is based on research Schweig began as an ACC grantee where she travelled from the US to Taiwan for doctoral dissertation research on contemporary musical narrative performance in Taiwan. The book takes a close look at how Taiwanese musicians are using rap music as a creative way to explore and reconcile Taiwanese identity and history.
Schweig draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, taking readers to concert venues, music video sets, scenes of protest, and more to show how early MCs from marginalized ethnic groups infused rap with important aspects of their own local languages, music, and narrative traditions.
Read more about Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan here
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