Andrea Giolai is a lecturer at the Institute for Area Studies.
Fields of interest
- Ethnography and anthropological theory
- Acoustic multinaturalism, ecomusicology
- Musical heritage and its reconstructions
- Japanese performing art
My research focuses on the anthropology and ethnography of Japan, sound studies, ecomusicology and acoustic multinaturalism. I specialize in the ethnography of contemporary Japan, with a particular focus on the production of sonic heritage, the soundscape of rituals, the study of sound in the environment, and the reconstruction of Japanese music and musical instruments.
My PhD thesis Decentering Gagaku. Exploring the Multiplicity of Japanese Court Music analyzes how music and dances historically associated to the Japanese court (Gagaku, Bugaku) are practiced today. My work has focused especially on local traditions of music-making, showing how sound, rituals and the environment intertwine in the life of amateur practitioners. Currently, I am revising my dissertation as a monograph based on several years of apprenticeship-based fieldwork in Western Japan.
I am also interested in sound art, sonic materialism, and the phenomenology of sound. I have researched how sound can be used to create atmospheric participation at Japanese religious festivals and how local Gagaku performances are grounded in an embodied, affective interplay between musical and physical movement.
Current projects explore the connection between the preservation of musical heritage and of natural resources, and a study of a transnational network of musicians performing and reconstructing music and musical instruments from the Asian Silk Roads.
I am part of the international research network “Groups, Clubs, and Scenes: Informal Creative Practices in Japan”, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (2021-2023).
PhD, Leiden University and Ca’ Foscari University (Area Studies, 2017)
MA, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Japanese Studies, 2011)
MA/Diploma, A. Steffani Conservatory of Music (Musicology/Flute, 2009
Fellowships and grants
Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Research Grant for Young Scholars, 2017-2019
Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow, 2017-2019
Japan Foundation Dissertation Research Fellow, 2015-2016
Anthropology of Japan
Ethnography and auditory curiosity
- Giolai A. (2020), Case study: the Matsuri as sonic event. In: Rambelli F., Baffelli E. & Castiglioni A. (Eds.) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Japanese Religions. Bloomsbury Handbooks London: Bloomsbury Academic. 217-219.
- Giolai A. (2020), Encounters with the past: fractals and atmospheres at Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri, Journal of Religion in Japan 9(1-3): 213-247.
- Giolai A. (2020), Il Gagaku al Teatro Nazionale di Tokyo (1966-2016). Fare e Disfare la Tradizione” (Gagaku at Tokyo National Theater (1966-2016). Doing and Undoing Tradition). In: Caroli R., Negri C. & Ruperti B. (Eds.) Sguardi sul Giappone. Venice: Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina. 255-272.
- Giolai A. (2019), Sensing the Music: Oral Mnemonics as a ‘Technique of Affective Sensitization’ in Japanese Court Music, Asian Anthropology 18(3).
- Giolai A. (3 May 2017), Decentering Gagaku. Exploring the multiplicity of contemporary Japanese Court music (PhD thesis. Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Humanities, Leiden University). Supervisor(s) and Co-supervisor(s): Cwiertka, K., Ruperti, B.
- Giolai A. (2017), Il Suono-Il Corpo-Il Cosmo. La Trasmissione del Sapere Dottrinale nel Canto Liturgico Buddhista Giapponese (Body-Sound-Cosmos. The Transmission of Doctrinal Knowledge in Japanese Buddhist Chant). In: Casadei Turroni Monti M., Ruini C. (Eds.) Musica e Esperienza Religiosa. Milano: Franco Angeli. 102-118.
- Giolai A. (2016), Passion Attendance: Becoming a ‘Sensitized Practitioner’ in Japanese Court Music, Antropologia e Teatro: Rivista di Studi 7: 244-266.
- Giolai A. (2013), Borders of Tradition: Social Innovation, Hybridity and Consumption of Traditional Music in Contemporary Japan. In: Asato W., Aoyama K. (Eds.) Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres: Proceedings of the 5th Next-Generation Global Workshop. Kyoto: Kyoto University. 601-613.
No relevant ancillary activities