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Dr Stephen Millar

Dr Stephen Millar

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

School of Music

Email:
millars3@cardiff.ac.uk
Location:
Room 0.17, 33-37 Corbett Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3EB

I am currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow 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 and engagement; music, health, and wellbeing; 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 British Journal of Music EducationJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Music & PoliticsPopular MusicPopular Music and Society, and Scottish Affairs

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

Education

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

Honours and awards

2018-21: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Cardiff University. 
2016-17: Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship, University of Limerick.
2013-16: AHRC Doctoral Studentship, Queen’s University Belfast.
2012-13: AHRC Masters Studentship, University of Cambridge.
⠀⠀⠀

Professional memberships

British Forum for Ethnomusicology

International Council for Traditional Music

Society for Ethnomusicology

Academic positions

2018–Present: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Cardiff University.

2017–2018: Postdoctoral Fellow and Lead Researcher on COOL Music, Glasgow Caledonian University.    

2017: Associate Lecturer, University College Dublin.    

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

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

2014–2015: Research Assistant, University of Stirling.

Speaking engagements

2019: ‘Rebel Songs: Music, Peace and Conflict Beyond the Troubles’. Mitchell Institute Speaker Series, Queen’s University Belfast. 

2019: ‘From Belfast to the Somme (and back again): Legitimising Loyalist Paramilitaries through Political Song’. Music Department Seminar Series, University of Oxford.

2019: ‘The Role of Music Scholarship in a Post-Truth World’. International Council of Traditional Music, Ireland. University College Dublin.

2018: ‘“COOL Music”: A Bottom-Up Music Intervention for Hard-to-Reach Young People in Scotland’. Glasgow Science Festival. Glasgow Caledonian University.

2017: ‘Music, Sport, and Freedom of Expression’. Sectarianism and its Relation to Hate Crime. Northern Ireland Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition. Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast.

2015: ‘Let the People Sing? Irish Rebel Songs, Sectarianism, and Scotland’s Offensive Behaviour Act’. Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. 

2015: ‘Performing Protest’. Local Musicking in Cross-Cultural Perspective Research Group, Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, Queen’s University Belfast.

2013: ‘Catholic Alterity? Music, Nationalism, and Sectarianism in Scotland’. AHRC/BBC Collaborative Workshop on Scottish Identity, BBC Broadcasting House, London.

Committees and reviewing

2019–Present: Journal Reviewer, Ethnomusicology Forum

2018–Present: Journal Reviewer, Managing Sport and Leisure

2018–Present: Journal Reviewer, Popular Music

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

Focusing on loyalist cultural and political songs, my current research project examines the interconnection between music and conflict in Northern Ireland from the Troubles to the present. Through the analysis of song texts, the project explores subaltern modes of production and dissemination by looking at music-making both as sonic weapon and social activity. The project shows how loyalist songs have not only acted as a form of political resistance, but also how such songs continue to operate as a locus for social cohesion and cultural sensibility.
Before joining Cardiff University, I was Lead Researcher on the COOL Music project at Glasgow Caledonian University. 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' as a means to resist against the hegemonic power of 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. A monograph based on this research is forthcoming with University of Michigan Press.