Hitting The Books: Lauren Meeker

Author: Lauren Meeker, assistant professor of anthropology


Title: “Sounding Out Heritage: Cultural Politics and the Social Practice of folk music in Northern Vietnam”


Subject: It is based on research I did on Quan Ho folk music. Basically, it’s a type of singing that started out in the villages of Northern Vietnam in one particular province and you’d have groups of singers all one gender — so all female singers exchanging songs with other groups of singers. Women singers would get together with a group of male singers and they would sing back and forth. What this book looks like is the village form of this music as well as what has happened to it as it has moved onto the professional stage.


How long have you been working on this?: 

This is based upon my dissertation research, which I started in 2003. So 2003-2005 I did the research. Then I wrote my dissertation and defended it in 2007 and since I’ve been at New Paltz I’ve spent two summers over there [in Vietnam] talking to people and updating some of the research. Then I got a contract with the University of Hawaii Press to revise the dissertation. It has evolved into the book that it is over a long period of time.


Publication date: The manuscript is at the publishers at the moment and it is in line to be copy-edited. Generally speaking, [the process] takes about a year.


What makes this unique?:

Well, there are no books published in English about Quan Ho folk music. So it will be the first one in English. There’s a few things that have been published about performance in Vietnam but not a whole lot at this point, so I’m contributing to this growing body of anthropology work.