Economies of Voice and the Politics of Transmission: Tuvan Khöömei Throat-Singing, 1981-2013


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines the cultivation, circulation, and negotiation of Tuvan ‘khöömei’ throat-singing voice from 1981 to 2013, during the historic conjuncture surrounding the collapse of state socialism in the USSR and subsequent political reorganization in the post-Soviet period. The project’s primary focus is on ‘khöömeizhi’ master throat-singers in the Tuva Republic (Russia), but it also investigates how international ‘fan-practitioner’ communities of throat-singers have played a significant role in shaping the meaning and value of ‘khöömei’ voice at various moments in the late Soviet and post-Soviet eras. To what extent should the (re)emergence of practices associated with Tuvan ‘khöömei’ be understood as a post-socialist phenomenon? What other factors, technologies, and alliances have actively shaped the conditions of possibility for this distinct cultural production in late/post-Soviet Tuva? This project seeks to illuminate stakes and concerns for various communities involved, rethink a relationship between fan culture, practice, and circulation, and further contribute to an understanding of how humans learn and shape our voices.