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Dr Stephen Millar

Dr Stephen Millar

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Yr Ysgol Cerddoriaeth

0.17, 33-37 Heol Corbett, Cathays, Caerdydd, CF10 3EB

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Ethnomusicology based in the School of Music. My academic work concentrates on the interconnection between music and politics, the aesthetics of ideology, and how this is transmitted through popular culture. I am interested in community music-making, debates around cultural appropriation, state censorship, and the use of music in conflict, particularly in Northern Ireland.

I have written articles on topics ranging from music and post-colonial struggle, to the censorship of football chants, and politicians’ appropriation of popular culture, which have been published in a broad range of academic journals, including the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Popular Music, and Scottish Affairs. I am currently co-editing a collection of essays on football, politics, and popular culture.

Prior to joining Cardiff University, I taught at Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin. I have held research positions at Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Limerick, and the University of Stirling. 


2017: Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, Queen’s University Belfast.
2013: M.Phil. in Music Studies, University of Cambridge.
2011: B.Mus. in Music, University of Glasgow.

Anrhydeddau a Dyfarniadau

2018:  Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Cardiff University. 
2016:  Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship, University of Limerick.
2016:  Small Grant, Society for Musicology in Ireland.
2015:  Conference Travel Grant, British Forum for Ethnomusicology.
2015:  Thurston Dart Student Research Grant, Royal Musical Association.
2013:  AHRC Doctoral Studentship, Queen’s University Belfast.
2012:  AHRC Masters Studentship, University of Cambridge.

Aelodaethau proffesiynol

British Forum for Ethnomusicology

International Council for Traditional Music

Society for Ethnomusicology

Safleoedd academaidd blaenorol

2017–2018: Postdoctoral Researcher, Glasgow Caledonian University.    

2017: Visiting Lecturer, University College Dublin.    

2016–2017: Visiting Research Fellow, University of Limerick.    

2015–2017: Visiting Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast.    

2014–2015: Research Assistant, University of Stirling.  





My current project examines the history of loyalist songs in Northern Ireland and their role in expressing a Protestant working-class culture and identity. The project explores the role loyalist songs played during the Northern Ireland Conflict (1968-1998) and why musicians and audiences continue to produce and consume such songs, examining their role in the (re)production of cultural memory. Lastly, the project examines how loyalist songs connect to and comment on current cultural and political developments in Northern Ireland, with loyalist songs providing a unique context for understanding a divided island and a fragmenting continent after Brexit.

Before joining Cardiff University, I was Lead Researcher on the ‘Community Orientated and Opportunity Learning’ (COOL) Music project at Glasgow Caledonian University. Supported by the European Social Innovation Fund, the project engaged groups of hard-to-reach young people through participatory music-making, offering alternative approaches to education and literacy, so as to improve their health and wellbeing. Working with community music practitioners in multiply-deprived areas of Scotland, the project helped participants dealing with trauma, while developing transferable skills for further study and future employment. 

My doctoral research examined how Irish republicans used ‘rebel songs’ to resist against the British state from the late eighteenth century to the present. Through archival work, participant observation, and interviews with artists and audiences, my thesis demonstrated how rebel songs provided a form of collective, emancipatory, participatory entertainment, as well as an articulation of what republicans hope to achieve politically. The thesis explored the hagiographic potential of rebel songs to memorialize a pantheon of Irish martyrs, using music as a means to understand the history of political violence in Ireland and how this continues to inform and influence the present.

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