Professor & Director of the Institute
Qualification: Ph.D., Anthropology, The Academy of Korean Studies
Research interests: Popular music studies; Korean musicology; East Asian music history; Sound studies
Courses taught: Modernity, Colonialism and Music in East Asia; Soundscape/sound Art: Concepts and Practices; Introduction to Sound Studies; Reading Japanese Music-related Materials: a Graduate Seminar; Introduction to the History of Japanese and Korean Pop Songs, Studying Popular Music, Recording Industry in Pre-1945 East Asia
Fumitaka Yamauchi spent an extended period in South Korea, where he received his PhD from the Academy of Korean Studies with his doctoral dissertation written in Korean in 2009. It was the first comprehensive study in any language of the recording industry in the context of colonial Korea and its relations with imperial Japan. Drawing on theoretical discussions of issues of subjectivity and agency in historical writing and the paradoxical idea of the immediacy and intimacy of voice that is in effect mediated through sound recording, he interrogated conventional narratives of Korean modernity; he touched upon contentious issues surrounding the Korea-Japan musical relationship such as Korean popular music formation under Japanese rule, in favor of a multi-vocal historical ethnography elaborating on the idea of inter-subjective yet asymmetrical construction of musical culture in contact zone. Including his dissertation, he wrote mostly in Korean in his early career. This practice derived from his training in and commitment to critical anthropology and postcolonial thought, which prompted him to ask self-reflective questions regarding his own positionality as a Japanese studying music histories of East Asia, a region strongly affected by Japanese imperial encroachment and its aftermath. He held visiting fellowships at Harvard during his PhD studies and at Yale during his appointment in Japan.
Having worked as a research assistant professor for three years at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia of the University of Tokyo, in the summer of 2009 Yamauchi joined the faculty of GIM, which he considers to be among a few most comprehensive and competitive musicological institutions across the region. His move to Taiwan has enabled him to expand the scope of his research into historical musical relations in the territories of imperial Japan, considering the inseparable and entangled relations of Japan-Korea-Taiwan with China, and furthermore the region’s place in global music histories; it has sharpened his thematic concerns for entangled dimensions of imperial formation and sonic writing. Consequently, contemplating these issues in regional and global music history has formed his current and long-term research projects. His research interests include the historical formations of recording culture and popular music in East Asia in their relation to issues of colonial modernity, wartime mobilization, and technological mediation. As a whole they concern a wide range of thematics in the study of what he has considered a truly historic moment in East Asian music history from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth, namely, a critical period initiated by the radical transition from the millennium-old Sinocentric world order based on the Confucian notions of hierarchy in harmony, to the Eurocentric world order built on the international terms of nation-states and colonies. This period also witnessed the introduction of translated notions of music to the regional lexicon. His long-term study examines the time when “East Asia” and “music” as we know them now were correlatively born and together transfigured themselves. More specifically, his recent research has identified and examined such issues as sonic control and documentary power, formations of phonographic modernity, and sound archive and modern knowledge, in a way that initiates and deepens a dialogue between (post)colonial studies and sound studies with a special reference to the historical field of East Asia.
His publications in English include “Policing the sounds of colony: Documentary power and the censorship of Korean recordings in the age of performative reproduction” (2011, Musica Humana), and he is the co-editor (with Hugh de Ferranti) of a special issue of The World of Music on colonial modernity and East Asian musics (2012), which features his own essay “(Dis)Connecting the empire: Colonial modernity, recording culture, and Japan-Korea musical relations.”