The American Musicological Society has awarded UW Ethnomusicology associate professor Christina Sunardi the Philip Brett Award for Stunning Males and Powerful Females, her study of gender and culture in East Javanese dance traditions published last year by University of Illinois Press. The award, announced recently in Vancouver at the society’s annual meeting, recognizes outstanding work in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual studies.
Professor Sunardi’s study investigates east Javanese dance traditions like Beskalan and Ngremo, in which musicians and dancers portray issues of gender through performances where males embody femininity and females embody masculinity. She gained insights and data through field studies in the regency of Malang in east Java, studying and performing with dancers and exploring the ways in which performers negotiate and renegotiate boundaries of gender and sex. In the process, she discovered an artistic and cultural landscape deeply rooted in tradition, but nevertheless continually transforming dance traditions. Such performances, she asserts, give dancers and creators an avenue for harnessing powerful aspects of gender and identity.
The American Musicological Society, advancing scholarly research, teaching, and learning in the various fields of music, includes some 3,500 individual members and 1,000 institutional subscribers from forty nations. Stunning Males and Powerful Females is Professor Sunardi’s first book-length publication.