Music Matters XVIIII Dr. Barbara Titus (Univesity of Amsterdam)

The Department of Arts, Culture and Media and ICOG invites you to the first MusicMatters XVIIII Concert and Lecture Series of 2018 on Friday February 23th

At 16:00 we host musicologist Dr. Barbara Titus (University of Amsterdam) in a guest lecture on the topic of

Performing Zulu history on a Dutch stage: Maskanda music, fabulation, and the disavowals of humanities scholarship.

More info:
Time: 16:00
Place. Room 1314.0014 (Onder de Bogen – Harmony Building)​
Free of admission – No registration required


In June 2010, South African maskanda musicianShiyaniNgcobo and his band performed the song ‘Asinankomo’ in the Tropentheater in Amsterdam. Like all maskandi, Ngcobo was a story teller, a societal critic, a spokesperson for the community and a validator of tradition. Rather than casting experienced events in a linear narrative that is being ‘re-told’, maskandi reproduce such events as a statement (igama) in the here-and-now; the events are‘re-lived’ through multiple expressive modalities simultaneously. In Amsterdam, Ngcobopresented his igamathrough the lyrics, tonal material, vocal timbres and dance routines of his song, and through his choices concerning instrumentation and dress. By discussing the responses of Dutch and South African members of the audience to these choices, I address the historiographical implications of Ngcobo’s performance as well as the performative implications of historiographical conventions in metropolitan academies. Professional historians, too, walk the fine line between narrating and reliving events of the past. Their practices have more in common with Ngcobo’s musical performance than might appear at first sight or first hearing.


Barbara Titus studied musicology at Utrecht University and gained her doctorate from Oxford University in the United Kingdom with a dissertation that was published under the title Recognizing Music as an Art Form: Friedrich Th. Vischer and German music criticism, 1848-1887. In 2007, she shifted her attention from German metaphysics to South African street music (maskanda), with the explicit aim to question the polarity that these two fields of investigation still seem to represent. Articles about subjects ranging from nineteenth-century German music criticism to contemporary popular musics in Southern Africa have been published in journals such as ActaMusicologica, Ethnomusicology, SAMUS: South African Music Studies and the Dutch Journal of Music Theory. Barbara is a fellow at the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) Community. She is co-editor of the journal the world of music (new series). In 2013, she was appointed Associate Professor of cultural musicology at the University of Amsterdam. During two extensive field trips for her research into maskanda in 2008 and 2009, she was a visiting professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. In the winter semester 2013-14, she was a guest professor at the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, Germany. In the spring of 2016, she was a researcher in residence at the University of Vienna in Austria as a Balzan Visiting Scholar.