Juliana M. Pistorius

Research Interests

Opera Studies; Post-Colonial Studies; Voice Studies; Music and Resistance; Culture and Imperialism; Metaphor Theory; Embodiment

Area of proposed thesis

My research focuses on the tensions arising from the performance of Western Art Music, and especially opera, in spaces of colonial struggle. Critical considerations of the performance of Western cultural products by colonised subjects are generally articulated in a language determined by concepts of complicity, self-colonisation, aspiration, and acculturation. I wish, however, to reveal the gendered, orientalist fantasies performed in such productions as potentially powerful sites for a nuanced form of colonial resistance which sounds in counterpoint to common understandings of cultural struggle.

Taking as a starting point the recently discovered Eoan Group Archive, hosted by the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, my project considers the Eoan group’s opera productions and their reception as sounding against current histories of political struggle in South Africa. My project presents the Western operatic imagination of the Eoan group as a site in which the simple binary model of resistance versus complicity falters, and develops a theoretical model that can account for the intersection of issues of race and authenticity in these productions. This includes considering the position of Western opera as representative of a cultural elite in the post-colonial imagination, as well as analysing the legitimising impulse represented by the Eoan group’s traditional productions of Western opera.


Oxford-Polonsky Scholarship

Subjects Taught

Keyboard Skills
Musical Thought and Scholarship
Music and Feminism