NEAR E 269 A: Music Cultures of the Silk Road

Summer 2021 A-term
T 1:10pm - 3:20pm / * *
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
ANTH 269 B
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):


NEAR E 296 A/ANTH 269 B
Summer 2021   A Virtual Classroom 

Tuesdays 1:10 to 3:20

Professor: Dr. Talant Mawkanuli
Office Hours: Thursdays 1:00 to 2:00 or by appointment 

Office hours Zoom link:

Contact: Send message via Canvas               

Student Group Presentation Schedule


Research Paper Appointment Schedule Sign-up Sheet


Uyghur Musicians.jpg


Course Description:

This introductory-level course offers a cross-cultural exploration of music along the Silk Road lands of Central Eurasia, China, and the Middle East. It approaches this topic from anthropological and ethnomusicological perspectives, examining the not only the interconnections between music and culture, but also the political ramifications and the sociohistorical contexts of colonization, imperialism, and sovereignty on the production of musical expressions. Topics covered include the construction of cultural identities, the role of music in ethnic identity formation, the social structure of musical practice, the connections between music and religion, the differences in musical expression between nomadic and sedentary societies, the material culture of music, the relationship between music and colonialism, and the role of music in a globalizing world.


No special knowledge of music or of the region on the part of students is presumed. The course will consist of lectures, reading and listening assignments, and class discussions, and will make extensive use of audio-visual materials.


Course Objectives:

  • To acquire a broad understanding of the basic concepts of musical anthropology and ethnography;
  • To become familiar with both the music and the cultural diversity of this ancient region;
  • To develop listening skills to enhance appreciation and understanding of all music;
  • To examine the intersection of music and culture through the lens of interdisciplinary critical analysis;
  • To use analytical skills to understand how music functions in different sociocultural contexts, considering the role of mobility, ethnicity, gender and power;
  • To understand the critical role that music plays in constructing and conveying cultural identity;
  • To compare and contrast how different cultures use music to structure social, cultural, religious, and political belief systems;
  • To develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complexity of cultural identity and the diversity of human music cultures.


Course Format:

This is an online course and class will meet once a week, and thus will require a great degree of responsibility and independence from students than a traditional course might. The course format will include one weekly session for lectures, in-class discussion and student presentations, with the remainder of the course requirements completed via online discussion boards, online quizzes, paper submissions, posted readings, and listening-to / viewing of audio and video segments.


Course Requirements:

This course will emphasize interaction and collaborative learning, and will make extensive use of class discussions and group projects, along with lectures. Each class is expected to be a discussion rather than a lecture by the instructor, so students are responsible for all readings and listening-to / viewings before the start of class and are expected to be actively involved and contribute in the class. Each class will have a joint presentation led by two or three students. The presentation will be followed by discussion of the course readings and related topics. Lectures will provide the broad social and cultural context, allowing students to effectively analyze and interpret the readings on specific topics. After lecture and presentation, the class will be split into groups for the purpose of discussing the themes covered and the presented questions. Each member of the group should present a salient point, then one or two volunteers from the group or a student chosen by the instructor will present their collective ideas and answers.


  • Participation: Students are expected to attend all classes, and active participation during each class period is expected. Class participation is also a key to your success. You should come to class having prepared the readings; that is, having completed them and having noted the main arguments, their relation to other readings, as well as any questions or disagreements you may have regarding them. In case of emergency, please notify me before class. Cameras should be turned on during class. Feel free to use any background at your convenience. You are encouraged to visit me during office hours if you need any additional assistance.


  • Discussion Leading: During the quarter, you are expected to discuss all assigned readings and participate in all classroom activities. You will work in pairs to facilitate class discussions; each student will have the responsibility for 1 class discussion. Each discussion should include a 10-minute presentation, which presents the readings’ main points, synthesizes the critical themes that emerge from the readings, and offers at least two questions to begin class discussion. You are encouraged to include image/map and links to audio or video examples to support your argument. Read all of your classmates’ discussion posts for the day in addition to the assigned readings. Students should e-mail their PowerPoint presentations to the instructor in advance and post two discussion questions to the class Canvas post no later than 8:00 pm on the night before the class. Following is a sample outline for this assignment:
  • Present a clear introduction to the author’s arguments.
  • Provide a short summary of the text, focusing on one or two central aspects of the reading.
  • Define the main message that you took away from the reading.
  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of the reading. Did the author have enough evidence to support the conclusion?
  • Present your reflections and substantiation of your critique based on a set of key questions to be submitted to the class for wider discussion.


  • Discussion Posting: Students are required to post 3 responses to the course readings and lectures on the open discussion board on the class Canvas Website. Posting options are available on the website under “Discussion.” Out of 4 discussion postings, you can select 3 posts you wish to submit. These three required postings may be completed anytime throughout the course but must be submitted by the due date indicated in the course schedule. Each posting should be at least two short paragraphs approximately 250-300 words and should be posted before the due date. All students should read the posted responses and add comments and questions to the thread as preparation for class. You are expected to read the posts before coming to class.

Prompt for the discussion posting should be either:

  1. Any general comments on the readings – are there aspects you found interesting, surprising, confusing? Anything you agree with, disagree with, or learned?
  2. Respond to the questions posted by the group presenting the class discussion as in the above section.


  • Critical Response Papers: Students are required to prepare 3 short critical reading response papers discussing the reading materials. You are expected to summarize the main points and to reflect critically on the author’s arguments, and to provide your own take on that argument. You will need to explain the relevance to the class discussion and incorporate examples and evidence. All three critical response papers should be no more than 2 pages long (double-spaced in Times New Roman size 12 font) and a hard copy of the responding paper must be turned in on the due date.


  • Online Quizzes: There will be three lecture/reading quizzes will be given on the topics based on the lectures and readings. Online quizzes are open-book and a review sheet will be provided before each quiz. The content is based on lectures and readings, including audio and video materials used in this course. Questions will be multiple choice and true/false and these quizzes are to make sure you are doing the readings, listening/watching activities and for you to self-monitor your progress in the course. These quizzes will be available on Canvas website at the time described in the syllabus and you will have a set time to complete each quiz. You can take the quiz only via Canvas and once you begin your quiz, you must complete it in the time allotted. You will have one attempt to complete and submit your quiz. As soon as finish and save your quiz, you will be able to view your own answers and the correct ones. No makeup quizzes are available. Upon completion of all 4 quizzes, the one with the lowest grade will be dropped. Check syllabus for specific dates.


  • Research Paper: Students are required to write a research paper with which to apply the cultural and methodological perspective discussed in class. The paper should be critical and analytical covering a particular theme based on the course topics and it should be 5 to 7 pages, and double-spaced in Times New Roman size 12 font. A topic for the paper should be chosen in consultation with the instructor and submitted NO LATER July 21, 2021. You must use at least two scholarly books, and two or three scholarly articles.


W Credit: Students wish to earn W credit for their work in this class can do so by turning in a slightly longer (10-14 page) research paper. Revision, editing, and reworking of essay assignments is an integral part of a W Credit. Please let the instructor know if you are interested in this option.


  • Project Presentation: During the last day of the class, you will work in group to present music and culture of an ethnic group. Presentations will be short (10 minutes) and there will be time for questions and discussion afterwards. More detail on this will be provided later on in the class.


Required Text and Materials:

These books can be purchased at the UW University bookstore or online

  1. Theodore Levin, ed., The Music of Central Asia, Indiana University Press, 2016.

Recommended readings:

  1. Jeff Todd Titon, World of Music, 6th, Cengage Learning, 2016.
  2. Sultanova, R. & Rancier, M. eds., Turkic Soundscapes, Routledge, 2018

Listening Assignments:

You will have weekly assigned listening activities each week to do on your own which are designed to keep you actively engaged with the reading material, music, and genres discussed in class.

Accessing Music Examples Online: which gives you reliable access to all required listening and watching examples for the course. You will be responsible for listening and watching critically to all these music and performances as you will be tested over the listening and watching materials.

Useful Websites:

Music of Central Asia - Smithsonian Folkways Recordings


Throughout the quarter I will post supplementary articles on Canvas for particular topics. These readings will be posted at least one week in advance and will be available as PDF documents.

Class assignments and grading:




Class participation



Leading a discussion (1)

~ 10 Mins


Discussion Posting (3)

2 paragraphs


Reading Response Papers (2)

1 ~ 2 pages


Quizzes (3) 



Cultural Project

~ 10 Minutes


Research Paper

4 ~ 5 pages



Grading Scale:

The following UW grading scale will be used:

100-98%          = 4.0

97-96%            = 3.9

95-94%            = 3.8

93-92%            = 3.7

91%                 = 3.6

90-89%            = 3.5

88-87%            = 3.4

86%                 = 3.3

85%                 = 3.2

84%                 = 3.1

83%                 = 3.0

82%                 = 2.9

81%     = 2.8

80%     = 2.7

79%     = 2.6

78%     = 2.5

77%     = 2.4

76%     = 2.3

75%     = 2.2

74%     = 2.1

73%     = 2.0

72%     = 1.9

71%     = 1.8

70%     = 1.7

69%     = 1.6

68%     = 1.5

67%     = 1.4

65%     = 1.2

64%     = 1.1

63%     = 1.0

62%     = 0.9

61%     = 0.8

60%     = 0.7

£ 59% = 0.0


Course Policies:

Missed Classes:

Should a student miss a class, it is the student’s responsibility to acquire any necessary material or information to make up the work.  Faculty members are unable to hold one on one lectures of the course content.  Students should arrange absences with faculty in advance or contact faculty immediate following an unscheduled absence.  Missed class sessions subsequently effect class participation and possibly overall grades.

Academic misconduct:

The university’s policy on plagiarism and academic misconduct is a part of the Student Conduct Code, which cites the definition of academic misconduct in the WAC 478-121. (WAC is an abbreviation for the Washington Administrative Code, the set of state regulations for the university. The entire chapter of the WAC on the student conduct code is here.) According to this section of the WAC, academic misconduct includes:

“Cheating”—such as “unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes”, “Falsification” “which is the intentional use or submission of falsified data, records, or other information including, but not limited to, records of internship or practicum experiences or attendance at any required event(s), or scholarly research”; and “Plagiarism” which includes “[t]he use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment.”


The UW Libraries have a useful guide for students at


Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. The website for the DRO provides other resources for students and faculty for making accommodations.


Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (



Among the core values of the university are inclusivity and diversity, regardless of race, gender, income, ability, beliefs, and other ways that people distinguish themselves and others. If any assignments and activities are not accessible to you, please contact me so we can make arrangements to include you by making an alternative assignment available.


Learning often involves the exchange of ideas. To include everyone in the learning process, we expect you will demonstrate respect, politeness, reasonableness, and willingness to listen to others at all times – even when passions run high. Behaviors must support learning, understanding, and scholarship.


Religious Accommodations:

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form:


Participation Rubric:

Exemplary (90%- 100%) 

Proficient (80%-90%) 

Developing (70%-80%) 

Unacceptable (>70%) 

Frequency of participation in class 

Student initiates contributions more than once in each class.

Student initiates contribution once in each class.

Student initiates contribution at least in half of the class

Student does not initiate contribution & needs instructor to solicit input.

Quality of comments 

Comments always respectful, insightful & constructive; uses appropriate terminology. Comments balanced between general impressions, opinions & specific, thoughtful criticisms or contributions.

Comments mostly respectful, insightful & constructive; mostly uses appropriate terminology. Occasionally comments are too general or not relevant to the discussion.

Comments are sometimes respectful, constructive, with occasional signs of insight. Student does not use appropriate terminology; comments not always relevant to the discussion.

Comments are disrespectful or uninformative, lacking in appropriate terminology. Heavy reliance on opinion & personal taste, e.g., “I love it”, “I hate it”, “It’s bad” etc.

Listening Skills 

Student listens attentively when others present materials, perspectives, as indicated by comments that build on others’ remarks, i.e., student hears what others say

& contributes to the dialogue.

Student is mostly attentive when others present ideas, materials, as indicated by comments that reflect & build on others’ remarks. Occasionally needs encouragement or reminder from instructor of focus of comment.

Student is often inattentive and needs reminder of focus of class. Occasionally makes disruptive comments while others are speaking

Does not listen to others; regularly talks while others speak or does not pay attention while others speak; detracts from discussion; sleeps, etc.


Syllabus change:

This syllabus is subject to change at any time. Some reading assignments may change in the syllabus during the quarter and the instructor reserves the right to change the syllabus. It is your responsibility to adapt to any such changes.


Weekly Schedule: Classes, Readings and Assignments

Topics and readings are divided up by day and week, and all readings must be completed before that day’s class.


Schedule of Lecture Topics, Reading Assignments, and Quizzes

Due dates

Week One  June 21-25

The Music-Cultures


June 22

Synchronous Session: The Meaning and study of Culture




Introduction: the class and the instructor Review the syllabus



Assigned readings: Levin/Daukeyeva, eds., The Music of Central Asia pp. 3-38 & Sultanova/Rancier, eds., Turkic Soundscapes pp. 1-15



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 1-13



Listening Assignments:

Altai Kai (Turkic Throat Singing)



Watching Assignments:

Huun Huur Tu - Chiraa-Khoor






What is Music?


June 24

Asynchronous Session: The Study of Music in Culture



Assigned readings: Jeff Todd Titon, Worlds of Music, pp. 1-32



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 17-42



Listening Assignments: Postal Workers Cancelling Stamps



Watching Assignments: Amazing Grace



Post by midnight June 27 (Sunday)

Discussion Posting (1)

June 28

Take quiz by midnight, June 28 (Monday)

Quiz #1 (Map Quiz)



Week Two June 28-July 2

Culture and Environment


June 29

Synchronous Session: Music and Ethnic Diversity




Ethnic Diversity in the Music of the Silk Road



Assigned readings: Levin/Daukeyeva, eds., The Music of Central Asia pp. 41-106



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 44-72



Listening Assignments: Example 6.5-6.9

Kongurei with English lyrics



Watching Assignments: Example 4.1-4.5; 6.1-6.4

Hongor ur min by Antugs Erdenechimeg





July 1

Asynchronous Session




Constructing and Conveying Cultural Identity



Assigned readings: Levin/Daukeyeva, eds., The Music of Central Asia pp. 109-138 &

Razia Sultanova, ed., Turkic Soundscapes pp. 175-230



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 73-110



Listening Assignments: Example 7.1; 7.5-7.5



Watching Assignments: Example 7.2-7.3; 7.7-8.4

Ukraine: “1944” by Jamala



Post by midnight, July 1 (Thursday)

Discussion Posting (2)

July 2


Reading Response Paper 1



Week Three July 5-9

Social Structure of Musical Practice


July 6

Synchronous Session



Music and Muqam




Assigned readings: Levin/Daukeyeva, eds., The Music of Central Asia pp. 317-378



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 113-139



Listening Assignments: Example 18.1-18.4; 19.1; 21.1-21.10



Watching Assignments: Example 19.2-19.5; 23.1


July 10

Take quiz by midnight, July 10 (Saturday)

Quiz # 2




July 8

Asynchronous Session



Music and Religion


Discussing paper topic with the instructor


Assigned readings: Levin/Daukeyeva, eds., The Music of Central Asia pp. 379-420 & Sultanova/Rancier, eds., Turkic Soundscapes pp. 59-73



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 140-160



Listening Assignments: Example  22.1; 22.3; 22.5; 22.7



Watching Assignments: Example  22.2; 22.4; 22.6

Yasawi Tobï Aqbala-bozdaq



Post by midnight July 8 (Thursday)

Discussion Posting (3)







Week Four July 12-16

Music and Politics


July 13

Synchronous Session



Music and Cultural Transformation




Assigned readings: Sultanova/Rancier, eds., Turkic Soundscapes pp. 214-230 & Levin/Daukeyeva, eds., The Music of Central Asia pp. 521-576



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp83. 161-183



Listening Assignments: Example 31.4-31.5; 33.1-33.2



Watching Assignments: Example 31.1- 31.3; 33.3-33.8

Orteke by HasSak Ethno-folk Ensemble





July 15

Asynchronous Session



Music and Cultural Expression




Assigned readings: Theodore Levin, ed., Music of Central Asia pp. 577-595

Jeff Todd Titon, Worlds of Music, pp. 495-558



Recommended readings: Timothy D. Taylor, Beyond Exoticism, pp. 184-212



Listening Assignments: TURKCAN - Türkün Bayrağı, Anayurt Marşı



Watching Assignments: Chahar Mezrab Abu Ata by Hossein Alizadeh



Post by midnight, July 15 (Thursday)

Discussion Posting (4)

July 17

Paper outline and Bibliography Due Each proposal should include a topic, a working thesis and a bibliography


July 18


Reading Response Paper 2

July 19

Take quiz by midnight, July 19 (Monday)

Quiz # 3

Week Five July 19-23

Diversity and Musical Practice


July 20

Synchronous Session



Activism and Marginalized Music


Cultural Presentations


Assigned readings: Pettan, S. & Titon, J. eds., De-colonization, Heritage, & Advocacy pp. 220-249



Recommended readings: Pettan, S. & Titon, J. eds., De-colonization, Heritage, & Advocacy, pp. 253-271



Listening Assignments:



Watching Assignments:


July 21

Final paper due on July 21

Final paper due







GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
May 11, 2024 - 10:58 pm