International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Winners of the 2023 ICTMD Prizes

The International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance is pleased to announce the 2023 prizes for Best Article, Best BookBest Documentary Film or Video, and Best Student Paper. Details on each of the winning submissions are followed by comments from the members of the respective subcommittees.

Prize Committee: Brian Diettrich (Chair), Lee Tong Soon (ex-officio), Marcia Ostashewski, Razia Sultanova, Sean Williams, J. Lawrence Witzleben, Louise Wrazen

Article Prize Subcommittee: Marcia Ostashewski (Chair), Olcay Muslu, J. Lawrence Witzleben

Book Prize Subcommittee: Sean Williams (Chair), Clare Chan, Nili Belkind

Documentary Film or Video Prize Subcommittee: Nicola Scaldaferri (Chair), Andotnio Baldassarre, Quintina Carter-Enyi, Mariko Kanemitsu, George Murer

Student Paper Prize Subcommittee: Brian Diettrich (Chair), Marcia Ostashewski, Lónan Ó Briain

Best Article


Heather MacLachlan. 2022. “Music and Incitement to Violence: Anti-Muslim Hate Music in Burma/Myanmar.” Ethnomusicology 66/3:410-42.

Heather MacLachlan’s very brave article makes a powerful case for scholars well beyond our field to engage with the work of ethnomusicologists. The article is also grounded in compelling, specific, and insightful analysis of music and related processes and issues. It is a difficult article to read because it describes horrible human rights abuses that Rohingya people have been facing and continue to face in Myanmar. It is for that reason just as important that we do read it, to learn more about what is happening in this area of the world, to inform and nuance our understandings of what we hear and see in our daily news feeds.

Richard K. Wolf. 2021. “The Musical Poetry of Endangered Languages: Kota and Wakhi Poem-Songs in South and Central Asia.” Oral Tradition 35/1:103-66.

Richard Wolf’s article is intellectually significant in its effort to configure new ways of understanding speech-language and singing relationships, content that has and continues to be so often at the core of studies in our field. Historical and conceptual, theoretical and based in deep ethnographies in Tajikistan and India, it focuses on examples of endangered languages in South and Central Asia that demand our attention.

Honourable Mentions

Ying-Fen Wang. 2021. “Resounding Colonial Taiwan through Historical Recordings: Some Methodological Reflections.” In Resounding Taiwan: Musical Reverberations Across a Vibrant Island, edited by Nancy Guy.

Sean Williams. 2022. “Poetry Writing as Transgressive Ethnography.” Ethnomusicology 66/3:361-77.

The two publications awarded Honourable Mention are very well written. Wang makes a strong case for the idea of historical ethnography through a study of music in Taiwan during the period of Japanese colonization. This article also highlights the importance of recordings, record industries, trade, and the circulation of recordings, in shaping conceptualizations of sound and music in our world. In an eloquently written, insightful, and reflective article, Williams proposes the use of poetry in ethnomusicological (and broader) research practice. She argues compellingly for scholars to engage a diversity of means, modes, and formats to better communicate experiences, understandings, processes, significances, and complexities of music - in a piece that demonstrates the engagement of a whole self as an ethnomusicologist, with the whom and what we are engaging with in our work .

Best Book


Jessica Bissett Perea. 2021. Sound Relations: Native Ways of Doing Music History in Alaska. Oxford University Press. 

The ICTMD Book Prize Committee is pleased to award the 2023 prize to Jessica Bissett Perea for her book Sound Relations: Native Ways of Doing Music History in Alaska, published by Oxford University Press. This cutting-edge work invites readers to consider Inuit music through Indigenous-led and Indigeneity-centred analyses of musicking to examine issues of race, power, and much more. By foregrounding Native ways of connecting with music history in the past and present, Bissett Perea examines both the importance of the local and the near-erasure of the local. The book highlights the concept of “Indigenising sound studies and sounding Indigenous studies,” and its author’s critique of the colonised lens through which such works as Nanook of the North and the sounds preserved in archives is deeply persuasive. Linking the concept of blood quantum—a colonial determination of who is and is not entitled to membership, land, or other benefits—to the idea of sound quantum and “sounding Eskimo” breaks new ground. We offer our warmest congratulations to Bissett Perea and to the people with whom she works.

Honourable Mention

Kay Kaufman Shelemay. 2022. Sing and Sing On: Sentinel Musicians and the Making of the Ethiopian American Diaspora. University of Chicago Press. 

The Book Prize Committee is also delighted to award an Honourable Mention to Kay Kaufman Shelemay for her outstanding book Sing and Sing On: Sentinel Musicians and the Making of the Ethiopian American Diaspora, published by the University of Chicago Press. Shelemay refers to “sentinels” as those who keenly listen and perceive; she also notes that sentinels serve as “guards, guides, and nodes in emerging networks, all the while ‘sounding’ dimensions of change in the communities of which they are a part”. Shelemay advances the idea of prosopography or collective biography rather than focusing on a single “great person” narrative. She emphasises the importance of sensory power as critical to a sentinel musician’s efficacy: movement, listening, ritual understanding. Finally, her explanation of the Ethiopian concept of double meaning through the metaphor of a double layer of wax and gold reflects hidden streams of power in Ethiopian society. We wish Dr. Shelemay and the diasporic communities of Ethiopia our best in bestowing this award.

Best Documentary Film or Video


Patrick AlcedoA Will To Dream (2021), 1h35m.

The film is a product of a five-year ethnographic research in urban communities in Manila. It highlights the activity of a dance artist in teaching ballet and Philippine folk dance to at-risk children and youth. It is a moving documentary, with message to social problems such as poverty, educational disparities, and migration. A Will To Dream is a well-made film with a solid social conscience, combined with the significance of practicing and teaching music and dance.

Honourable Mentions

Lea Hagmann and Rahel von GuntenBeyond Tradition of Yodelling and Yoiking (2023), 1h46m.

“What does tradition really mean?” In the film this question is answered throughout three different musical cases: that of a Swiss yodeller, a yoiker from South-Sapmi in Norway, and a Georgian music student. Their experiences look beyond a conservative understanding of music tradition. The film includes beautiful music and showcases excellent materials. Beyond tradition of yodelling and yoiking is able to capture different cultures and practices, places and musical activities.

Daniele Zappatore. Carang Pring Wulung: The Journey of a Bamboo Gamelan Maestro (2022), 63m.

The film is devoted to the gamelan calung, the bamboo xylophone ensembles of Banyumas, Central Java, represented through the perspective of an expert musician, composer, and teacher actively engaged in transmission, promotion, and innovation. The author’s perspective offers analytical insights about this particular musical practice. Beautiful musical materials, performed with the bamboo gamelan, contributes to enhance the quality of the film.

Best Student Paper presented at the 47th ICTM World Conference (Legon, Ghana)


YuHao Chen, PhD Candidate, University of Pittsburgh, USA. “Sounding Hands: Manual Signs in Early Chinese Deaf Education.”

Drawing on historical documentation about pedagogy in China, this paper examined the use of the hand to emulate spoken sounds in early deaf education in China. The paper investigated the hand as “both a sensor and a visualising instrument of Chinese sounds” and thus explored new, innovative linkages between frameworks of corporeality, sound, and understanding phonocentrism. The committee found this to be an elegant, fascinating, and novel presentation that opened up new critical spaces for interdisciplinary research. 

Honourable Mentions

Gale Franklin, PhD Candidate, Carleton University, Canada. “Listening to Whiteness: The Sounds and Silences of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ Occupation in Ottawa.”

This paper examined performances and sounds of whiteness in Canada by examining contexts of the “Freedom Convoy” Occupation that took place in Ottawa. By exploring notions of place, colonisation, resistance, and listening, this timely and innovative presentation asked how a critical ethnomusicology might contribute to dismantling white supremacy in and outside of the academy.

Priyakshi Agarwal, MA degree, Roehampton University, UK. “Dancehall: A Tool for Resistance Through A Feminist Lens in Kingston, Jamaica.”  

The paper explored Dancehall, the music, dance, and cultural phenomenon from Jamaica through a framework of feminist resistance. This fascinating and deeply engaged research placed strong emphasis on agency in Dancehall by situating Black feminism, decoloniality, and the geopolitics that are emergent in performances within downtown Kingston.