Leverhulme funding successes
Funding awards from the Leverhulme Trust will allow Cardiff researchers to explore connections between the arts and the theosophy movement and to study the musical traditions associated with a traditional Nigerian drum in Cuba.
Dr Amanda Villepastour, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, has been awarded a Small Research Grant from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust for a project on guardian narratives about the bata drum in both Nigeria and Cuba.
The bata drum originated with the Yoruba people in Nigeria and was transferred to Cuba via the trans-Atlantic slave trade and now finds itself at the heart of competing claims to religious and musical authority. Although Cuba is Nigeria’s diaspora, the Cubans’ claim to guardianship of the instrument cannot be dismissed as the bata tradition is flourishing in Cuba but is culturally endangered in Nigeria.
The funding will allow Dr Villepastour to carry out fieldwork in Cuba for the first comprehensive comparative study of the Nigerian and Cuban bata traditions. It leads on from her earlier monograph, Ancient Text Messages of the Yoruba Bata Drum: Cracking the Code (Ashgate, 2010).
Professor Rachel Cowgill, Chair in Musicology, is a member of an inter-disciplinary group of researchers who have been awarded a Leverhulme International Network Grant to study the theosophy movement. The network is led by York University and, as well as Professor Cowgill, includes researchers from Amsterdam University, Columbia University, Nottingham University, and Utah State University. Professor Cowgill was co-convenor of the international symposium from which the plans for this network were developed.
The Enchanted Modernities project will explore why Theosophy was so popular with cultural practitioners (c.1875-1960) and what impact it had on their artistic endeavours. It will discover and map current research taking place on the cultural impact of Theosophy, as well as the resources and materials available to scholars interested in this area, many of which have only recently come to light.