I am Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the Moving Matters programme group. My research and teaching focuses on music, conflict, and cultures of resistance, with a particular emphasis on Britain and Ireland. I am especially interested in the social impact of music-making and my work uses music as a platform to examine some of the most pressing concerns of our times, including militant nationalism, social inclusion, and the legacy of colonialism.
I have written articles on topics ranging from football culture and state censorship to the role of music in engaging hard-to-reach young people, and from music as (post)colonial struggle to community experiences of sectarianism. My articles have been published in a broad range of academic journals, including the British Journal of Music Education, Ethnomusicology Forum, Health & Social Care in the Community, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Music & Politics, Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, Race & Class, and Scottish Affairs. I am co-editor of Football and Popular Culture: Singing Out from the Stands (Routledge 2021) and Football, Politics, and Identity (Routledge 2021). I have also carried out significant policy work for both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
My first monograph Sounding Dissent: Rebel Songs, Resistance, and Irish Republicanism (University of Michigan Press 2020) examines how Irish republicans have used rebel songs to resist against the hegemonic power of the British state. Drawing on three years of sustained fieldwork within the rebel music scene, the book challenges the parameters of the postcolonial and reconceptualises political resistance through sound, using rebel songs to understand the history of political violence in Ireland. It was awarded a High Commendation in the British Association for Irish Studies Book Prize (2021).
My current book project examines the interconnection between Ulster loyalist songs and political violence in Northern Ireland from the Troubles to the present. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the project unravels the role songs play in inciting violence during war and legitimising structural violence during peace, examining their embeddedness in paramilitarism and inter-communal conflict. It explores why musicians and audiences continue to consume loyalist songs, and how, in the wake of Brexit, such songs form part of a cultural nostalgia for multiple and intersecting imagined pasts, which resonate with the rise of populism in other parts of the world.