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Dr.  Stephen Wilford

Research Associate

University of Cambridge


Dr. Stephen Wilford is a Research Associate within the Faculty of Music and a Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge. He is part of the team working on the European Research Council funded project ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters across the Strait of Gibraltar’. He studied at the University of Aberdeen, Leeds College of Music, and Goldsmiths, University of London, before completing his AHRC-funded PhD at City, University of London, with a thesis focusing upon music-making among the Algerian diaspora community of London. He has taught at City, University of London, the University of Southampton and Goldsmiths, University of London. Stephen’s work focuses upon North African musics, particularly those of Algeria, and spans a range of traditional and contemporary styles, from the region’s various Andalusi traditions to the Franco-Algerian hip hop scene. He was formerly an Early Career Research Fellow of the Institute of Musical Research and is currently a member of both the national committee of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and the Ethnomusicology-Ethnochoreology committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute.


Stephen’s research focuses upon musical and sonic connections between Algeria and France, throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods (1830 to the present day). He engages with various musical styles and genres, from Algeria’s regional Andalusi traditions to the contemporary Franco-Algerian hip hop scene. His research interrogates the intersections of music and sound within public and private spaces, and is concerned with ideas of collective identity, cultural memory, diaspora and transnational flows of music. He is particularly interested in the role of sonic and audio-visual technologies in the production and circulation of music and musical meanings among composers, performers and listeners, and the connections that these form between North Africa and Europe. Methodologically, his work stands at the intersection between ethnomusicology, sound studies and history.


His current research on the project is formed of a number of strands, which include: visual representations of music and music-making in Algeria during the colonial period, with a particular focus upon photography and film; North African musics at the French colonial expositions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as the broader soundscapes of these events; musical encounters and dialogues between North Africa and Europe through contemporary Franco-Algerian hip hop; and the role of sound and music in the recent Hirak movement protests in Algeria. Stephen has published book chapters and articles in leading peer-reviewed journals and is currently working towards a monograph on Franco-Algerian sonic encounters. In addition, he has made ethnographic films and curated an exhibition of images of music-making from the period of French colonial rule in Algeria.

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