Universiteit Leiden

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Andrea Giolai


Dr. A. Giolai
+31 71 527 4732

Andrea Giolai is a lecturer at the Institute for Area Studies.

More information about Andrea Giolai

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
Ethnographic methods
Ethnography and auditory curiosity


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS Japan

Work address

Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.02c


No relevant ancillary activities

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