Mary Talusan has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation examines music, gender, transnationalism, and migration through the diverse musics of the Magindanao, a Muslim Filipino minority group. With a Fulbright (IIE) Fellowship and FLAS Fellowship, she conducted 18 months of fieldwork in Marharlika Village, Taguig, Metro Manila and Cotabato City, Mindanao. She is indebted to Danongan Kalanduyan and his extended family for their hospitality, generosity, and musical expertise. Her dissertation committee included Dr. Helen Rees, Dr. A.J. Racy, and Dr. Anthony Seeger. She published an article on “rebel songs” created during the armed rebellion against the Marcos regime and how they drew on themes of Islamic piety and images of American cowboys to cultivate an ethnoreligious identity among Muslim Filipinos. Her future book project, based on her dissertation work, is entitled Women’s Courtship Voices: Music and Gender in the Muslim Philippines. This book will investigate how music and performance give voice to otherwise hidden sentiments of women during courtship in a provocative stage show called the dayunday. Using a retuned western guitar, performers sometimes use a disappearing musical language called kapagapad to transmit risqué limericks to the audience’s delight.

Talusan’s M.A. thesis (1999) examines how kulintang, Muslim Filipino gong music, plays an important role in the cultural identity-seeking activities of Filipino Americans. She recently published a chapter on Filipino American kulintang in the collection of essays called Muslims and American Popular CultureShe argued that the music culture surrounding kulintang music in America has created its own genre and set of culturally appropriate meanings despite debates over musical authenticity.

Dr. Talusan’s book Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during U.S. Colonization of the Philippines will be published by University Press of Mississippi in fall 2021. Gathering over 20 years of research on her great-grandfather’s role in the band, his travels with the band to the United States, and close friendship with African American conductor, Lt. Col. Walter H. Loving, she analyzes the connections between music, race, and U.S. imperialism during the early 20th century in America. White American audiences’ overwhelmingly positive response to the PC Band’s Euro-American concert band repertoire, she argues, is partly motivated by a desire to mitigate racial (and musical) anxieties over American identity during an era of colonialism and weakening of European cultural hegemony. The book is based on a previously published article in Philippine Studies (2004).


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