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Dr Shzr Ee Tan begins new research project, 'Sounds of Precarious Labour'

Dr Shzr Ee Tan begins new research project, 'Sounds of Precarious Labour'

  • Date27 September 2021

Dr Shzr Ee Tan, Senior Lecturer and Ethnomusicologist, has started her AHRC-funded Research and Engagement Grant project on 'Sounds of Precarious Labour: Acoustic Regimes of Transient Workers in Southeast Asia'.

Shzr Ee Tan image.jpg

Indonesian migrant workers from the Nur Assyifa Nasheed Religious Singing group based in the Abdul Hamid Kampung Pasiran Mosque, recorded as part of the project.

Dr Shzr Ee Tan has started her new AHRC-funded project, 'Sounds of Precarious Labour', that 'investigates the sonic staking and regimenting of public, private and liminal spaces claimed by low-wage migrant workers in precarious labour'.

Dr Tan is interested in impact-based issues of music and decolonisation, aspirational cosmopolitanism, and race discourses in music scenes around the world (including HE), with a view towards understanding marginality through the lenses of intersectionality.

To quote from the abstract for the project: 

'This project investigates the sonic staking and regimenting of public, private and liminal spaces claimed by low-wage migrant workers in precarious labour. It focuses on unequal sonic and labour flows around the multicultural city-state of Singapore, where a Chinese-majority population draws heavily upon the resources of a primarily Muslim and lower-income region, particularly in domestic work and construction. This stark inequality has been exposed and exacerbated through the recent COVID pandemic, which has seen 'gold-standard' health-management protocols set up by the government upturned in a sudden and unexpected resurgence of infections among transient worker populations. At the heart COVID's second wave is the invisibilised and overlooked status of transient workers, whose (lack of) welfare - impacting overnight on the lives of all Singaporeans - has become a tipping point in a national-turned-global crisis and issue of public debate. Here, sounded worlds - particularly in electronic and virtual stakings of space, agency and identity amid harsh quarantined environments of packed hostels and employer-shared housing - have become ever more important recourses for migrants in safeguarding their voices, privacy and agency. Researching phenomena from earphone havens to social media singalongs to lockdown concerts and the acoustic disciplining of environments via language exclusion and sonic surveillance (eg maintenance of 'housework sounds' across the home), my project addresses multiple issues in urgent need of scrutiny.'


You can read more about 'Sounds of Precarious Labour' here:

You can read more about Dr Tan's work on her research profile:


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