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Mary Talusan holds 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 Culture. She 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 is under contract with University Press of Mississippi. 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).

Currently she teaches courses in world music, popular music, and interdisciplinary courses at Loyola Marymount University and CSU-Dominguez Hills (click here for a current list). She occasionally gives workshops on the kulintang ensemble, and has studied cello, Chinese erhu, Balinese gamelan, and Javanese gamelan. Several of her musical compositions have been performed in Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Manila, Philippines. Dr. Talusan is dedicated to mentoring diverse and underrepresented students and serves as faculty advisor for the student organization ASIA@CSUDH.

Short bio for use in publications:

Mary Talusan Lacanlale holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in ethnomusicology and is on the faculty of the Asian Pacific Studies Program at CSU Dominguez Hills. She teaches courses on Asian Pacific Studies including the Filipinx Experience and Asian Popular Culture and Globalization, and ha served as faculty mentor to Pagsikapan Pilipino American Student Community and the Asian Pacific Islander Association. Her scholarly work examines Filipino and Filipino American musical performances through the complex web of race-making, U.S. colonization of the Philippines, and contemporary cultural production. Recent publications include “Muslim Filipino Traditions in Filipino American Popular Culture” in Muslims and American Popular Culture (2014), “Marching to ‘Progress’: Music, Race, and Imperialism at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair” in Mixed Blessing: The Impact of the American Colonial Experience on Politics and Society in the Philippines (2013), and  an essay in Philippine Modernities, Commemorating 100 Years of UP College of Music (2018)​. Her upcoming book with the University Press of Mississippi is entitled Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during U.S. Colonization of the Philippines. Dr. Mary Talusan Lacanlale has received the Fulbright (IIE) Fellowship, Ford Dissertation Fellowship, and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship. She performs the music and dance traditions of Mindanao, Southern Philippines with California-based Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble.

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