Past events

RAI Research Seminar: John Baily
Wednesday 14 November 2018, 05:30pm - 07:30pm
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Playing Malinowski in Herat: Ethnomusicological fieldwork in 1970s Afghanistan

Prof Jon Baily, Goldsmtihs, University of London

Wednesday 14 November at 5.30 pm

In 1973–74 John Baily, with the help of Veronica Doubleday, conducted fieldwork in the city of Herat, mainly focused on the invention of a new musical instrument, the 14 stringed Herati dutâr, a type of a long-necked lute. This project utilised a quasi-experimental paradigm arising from Baily’s doctoral research on human movement and spatial coordination. In a second year of fieldwork, 1976–77, Baily and Doubleday returned to carry out much broader research on the anthropology of music in Herat, focused on professional musicians, male and female. During this period Baily, funded by the SSRC, was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology, Queen’s University Belfast.  Under Professor John Blacking this was emerging as a leading centre for ethnomusicology within the UK. This seminar examines differences in research methodology between the two periods of fieldwork before and after Baily and Doubleday were embedded in Queen’s anthropology department (1974–76), when they learned how to apply the principles of participant observation to music research, especially the use of learning to perform as a research technique in ethnomusicology.

John Baily is Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has taught at Queen’s University Belfast (1978–1984), Columbia University (1988–1990) and Goldsmiths (1990–2008). He is Chair of the newly reconstituted RAI Ethnomusicology Committee.  

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom