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December 2019 Ethnomusicology Student of the Month - Shelley Zhang

Thursday, December 19, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Sturgis
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Shelley Zhang
University of Pennsylvania

Concentration of Study: Ethnomusicology, contemporary China, Western art music

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Biography: Shelley Zhang is invested in pursuing silenced or excluded histories that do not necessarily exist in institutional archives, and critically interrogating how issues of race, trauma, and biopolitics impact knowledge production and reception. Her research focuses on music practices in the People’s Republic of China after the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), with particular attention to how the one-child generation negotiates intergenerational memory, precarity, transnationalism, and citizenship in post-socialist China. Drawing on her training in ethnomusicology, musicology, and Western classical music, Shelley pursues this research through multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork and historical methods.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Shelley received her B.Mus in Western classical piano and music history and theory from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music, and Diploma in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Canada). Following a year of fieldwork in Beijing (2018-2019), Shelley is learning the Chinese folk fiddle, erhu, and plays with Swarthmore College’s Chinese Music Ensemble. She is supported by the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship from Canada. 

Publications & Awards:


“Linguistic Intimacy: French Texts in the Lives of Franco-Canadian Musicians.” 2012. Canadian Folk Music 46, no. 3: 21-29.


  • Barbara Barnard Smith Student Paper Prize, SEM. Paper title: “Material Nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution Era: The Affective Practices of Revolutionary Music in Contemporary China.”
    Paper presented in 2017 at the annual meeting in Denver. Award received 2018.
  •  Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, 2017-2020. Awarded by the Government of Canada.
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 2019-2020.


Complete list of Ethnomusicology Students of the Month

Ethnomusicology Student of the Month Nomination Form

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