The concept of Southeast Asia as an area of study developed in line with American postwar scholarly interest and the formation of many nation-states in the region are linked to extended histories of colonization, occupation or economic and political subjugation from various entities from Europe (Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, England). Thus, the development of popular music in Southeast Asia is also tied to a history of adaptation, adoption, affectation, contestation and continuity with American and European culture.


Within borders, further complexities of popular music identities and exchanges exist. Thailand’s music also includes that of ethnic communities such as the Lao, Khmer and Karen; Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore contain a diversity of popular music based on ethnic/dialect groups (Melayu, Jawa, Batak, Bugis, Kelantan, Iban, Kadazan-Dusun, Tamil, Hokkien); while the Philippines comprises popular musicking from each ethnolinguistic group’s entrenched sensibilities such as those from Pampanga, Cebu, Bacolod, Dumaguete, and Davao. Many forms of popular ethnic/linguistic/dialect music create distinctions, while also marking minority and marginal identities in the face of homogenizing nation-states. There are also some that express multilingual and intercultural dialogue and collaboration between ethnic groups; whether state-sponsored, commercially motivated or community driven.


Across borders, popular music and its agents also travel and exert influences through fluid transnational networks across the dense mainland and vast islands of the region. Historically, cosmopolitan hubs such as Singapore served as a point of convergence for musical talent (composers, artistes, musicians) and industry (entertainment parks, film studios, record companies) to produce a wide range of entertainment products (films, records, stage-productions, print media) for a diverse range of vernacular mass markets. Popular music of the Malay-language, for example, was widely disseminated from such hubs across island Southeast Asia (including Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia, Philippines), forming the imaginary of a ‘Nusantara’ region linked by a lingua franca that predated European colonialism. Thus, migration across borders within the region is also common among Southeast Asians; for example, musical genres, ideas and talent flow from Indonesia to Singapore, Philippines to Malaysia, Myanmar to Thailand.


In looking beyond the region’s borders, the postcolonial era of neoliberal globalisation and rapid and wide-ranging technologies of communication and mass media present new relationships of power, economic exchange and cultural capital that exist between the region and other influential Asian states such as China, Japan, South Korea and India. For example, popular music from South Korea (K-pop) and India (Bollywood) are widely consumed across Southeast Asia in various forms of media. Of course, Anglo-American influences of popular culture from the colonial era until present-day persist in Southeast Asian popular music in localised forms of jazz, rock, hip-hop, electronic dance music, indie and various other genres and subgenres of music. Through these forms of music, artists and fans also form distinct global networks of interaction and exchange that transcend national and regional boundaries.

We invite papers on Southeast Asian popular music as well as other music that intersect with Southeast Asia (e.g. Southeast Asian diasporas in Africa, South America, North America, Europe and East Asia), along the lines of the following issues:


  1. Within – What are distinctly local forms of popular music expressed within national borders? Are there practices on the margins of such national spaces that contest the hegemony of the state or state-imposed national cultures? How are aspects of ‘internal’ national-cultural identity promoted or challenged in hybridised/globalised popular music made with nation-state borders? 

  2. Across – What were the flows of movement and migration experienced by artistes and their music across national borders in Southeast Asia? How did these movements and musical exchanges shape their popular music and the communities that consumed or exploited their talent? How might the fluidities of Southeast Asia as a regional space of cultural and economic interaction be understood in expressions of popular music?

  3. Beyond – What are the past and current trends of popular culture, external to the region, that influence Southeast Asia’s popular music? How do current technologies of mass media affect the performance, production, and consumption of popular music in the region? How are relationships of power, economic exchange and cultural capital between the region and other influential states (such as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, America, United Kingdom) expressed in the region's popular music? Further, how are particular Southeast Asian popular music artistes and producers localising the foreign or the global; or, in turn globalising the local?


Lara Katrina Mendoza (Ateneo de Manila University)
Adil Johan (National University of Malaysia)
Isabella Pek (ASWARA, Malaysia)
Cristina Maria P. Cayabyab (University of the Philippines)
Azmyl Yusof (Sunway University Malaysia)



The registration fees for the conference (inclusive of 1-year IASPM membership subscription fee, conference meals, kit, and certificate) are:

Until January 17, 2020
Waged members: USD 95.00
Unwaged / Students: USD 70.00

January 18, 2020 onwards
Waged members: USD 100.00
Unwaged / Students: USD 75.00

If you have already paid your annual IASPM membership dues, you may subtract USD 25.00 (waged) or USD 10.00 (unwaged/students) from the total fee. Simply attach proof of your IASPM membership payment when you email us your payment confirmation for this conference.

For local attendees, payments may be made at any Metrobank branch in the Philippines in pesos at prevailing market rates. Accomplish the “Payment Slip” (color green) in duplicate with the following information:

Company Name: Ateneo de Manila University
Subscriber Name:  Name of paying client
Reference No.: 2nd IASPM-SEA Conference 2020
Subscriber No.: 100-078-067
Mode of Payment: Cash/Check
Amount of Payment: Php xxxx.xx (refer to the fees above, using the day's exchange rate)

For international attendees, dollar payments may be made through PayPal: paypal.me/LaraKatrinaMendoza

PayPal payments must also include an additional USD 5.00 to account for PayPal's service charge.

For ALL attendees, please show proof of payment by sending a photo of the deposit slip or a screenshot of the receipt via email to: epapc@ateneo.edu.

Pre-registered participants and presenters can also pay on-site on Day 1, in pesos at prevailing market rates. Walk-ins may pay a fixed rate of USD 20.00 per day, exclusive of catering; conference kits may be given while supplies last.


Participants who need accommodation may stay on campus at the Ateneo International Residence Hall. The room rates are:


Twin sharing room: PHP 1,500 per night

Single room: PHP 3,000 per night


Payments can be made on campus or through Metrobank deposit. Please contact Sasha Wong (sarah.wong@obf.ateneo.edu) before January 17, 2020 to book a room.


There are also nearby hotels and serviced flats, namely:

The Oracle Hotel (http://www.oraclehotel.com.ph/)

Studio 89 Residences (https://thestudio89residences.com/)


For any questions or concerns, please contact EPAPC (epapc@ateneo.edu) and/or IASMP-SEA (iaspm.sea@gmail.com) directly.

Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures

© 2018 EPAPC