Sonic City: Making Rock Music and Urban Life in Singapore – a seminar by A/P Steve Ferzacca (Wed, 22 March 2017)

Speaker: Assoc Prof Steve Ferzacca (Visiting Associate Professor, Yale-NUS College)
Date: Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)


This talk examines the making of rock music in Singapore by a community of amateur and semi-professional musicians, their family, friends, and fans as simultaneously the making of urban life.  This sonic ethnography derived from 5 years of fieldwork with a group of aging Singapore rockers explores the implications of understanding social relations in the resonance and reverberations that musical activity produces. Following Steven Feld (2012), this talk illustrates “a way of knowing” and experiencing urban life through sound. From music shops located in the basements of shopping malls, to practice spaces and jam sessions, and onto live music venues and performance stages, making sound as a “way of knowing the world” deepens. For these aging rockers, once denigrated by the Singaporean regime as purveyors of “yellow culture,” and now celebrated as icons of heritage, making musical life in this sonic city articulates sound and place in shared experience and the creation of subjectivities deeply rooted in this crossroads of the world.

About the speaker

Steve Ferzacca received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Anthropology in 1996. He is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. Presently, Steve is a Visiting Associate Professor and the Acting Head of Study for the Anthropology Program at Yale-NUS College. For most of his career, Steve’s research was in the field of medical anthropology, focusing attention on urban medicine and chronic disease in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. While appointed as a Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute at NUS, he began ethnographic work in Singapore with a group of musicians. Steve’s work appears in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies of Illness and Medicine, Ethos, Annual Review of Anthropology, Senses and Society, to list a few. His 2001 book, Healing the Modern in a Central Javanese City, is based on his work in Yogya. Steve served as editor of Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Illness and Medicine. He is currently working on a book manuscript, “Sonic City: Making Rock Music and Urban Life in Singapore” for NUS Press.