Skip to main content

Professor Fiona Magowan

Image: Fiona Magowan

BA Hons (Nottingham), MSt, (Oxford), DPhil (Oxford)

Professor of Social Anthropology

Director of Research: Anthropology and Ethnomusicology (Sem 1)

Tel: + 44 (0) 28 9097 3740

Office: 13UQ.202

Fiona Magowan was educated at the universities of Nottingham and Oxford in Music and Social Anthropology and awarded a D.Phil at Oxford in 1995. She held lectureships in Anthropology at Manchester University (1993-96) and Adelaide University, South Australia (1996-2003) before coming to Queen’s University in 2003. She has been Vice-President of the Australian Anthropological Society 2000-2002; Chair of the Anthropological Association of Ireland (2006-08); a member of the Royal Irish Academy's National Committee for Social Sciences (2009-2011) and Chair of the Music and Gender Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music.

Research Interests

Her research interests span issues of movement, music and the senses in anthropology and ethnomusicology. She has conducted fieldwork on religion, ritual and Christianity amongst Yolngu in north east Arnhem Land since 1990 with regular return trips. Research interests have included mission histories, cultural tourism, and more recently new movements in art and aesthetics. Her book, Melodies of Mourning, shortlisted for the 2008 Stanner Award, examines Yolngu sensory awareness of the Northern Territory environment through music and dance and women's emotions in ritual performance. She has also carried out consultancies on town infrastructure and customary marine tenure in far north Queensland and north east Arnhem Land, respectively. Other research areas include work on senses of musical healing and culture in Northern Ireland and an ESRC funded project on senses of risk among drivers, pedestrians and other road users. She has completed an RCUK funded project as Senior Researcher in the HERA consortium Creativity in a World of Movement on Moving aesthetics: translocal and transnational spiritualities in Australian Aboriginal art (HERA 2010-2012 with Dr. Maruska Svasek, PI) and is currently working on The Domestic Moral Economy: An Ethnographic Study of Values in the Asia-Pacific (ESRC 2011-2015 with Professor Karen Sykes, Manchester University and Professor Chris Gregory ANU).



Select chapters and articles

  • 2015  'Art as Empathy: Imaging Transfers of Meaning and Emotion in Urban Aboriginal Australia'. In Øivind Fuglerud and Leon Wainwrights (eds). Objects and Imagination: Perspectives on Materialization and Meaning. Oxford: Berghahn. Pp. 187-206.
  • 2014  'Empowering art: Reconfiguring narratives of trauma and hope in the Australian national imaginary.' Open Arts Journal, Issue 3. Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity.Summer. URL accessed at
  • 2013  'Mission Music as a Mode of Intercultural Transmission, Charisma and Memory in Northern Australia.' In S. Reily and J. Dueck (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities. New York and Oxford: O.U.P. Pp. 45-68.
  • 2013 'Introduction: Musical Intersections, Embodiments,and Emplacements' (co-authored with L. Wrazen). In F. Magowan and L. Wrazen (eds). Performing Gender, Place, and Emotion. Global Perspectives. Rochester: University of Rochester Press. Pp. 1-16.
  • 2013  'Performing Emotion, Embodying Country in Australian Aboriginal Ritual.' In F. Magowan and L. Wrazen (eds) Performing Gender, Place, and Emotion. Global Perspectives. Rochester: University of Rochester Press. Pp. 63-84.
  • 2009  'A Sung Heritage: An ecological approach to rights and authority in intangible cultural heritage in Northern Australia.' In M. Langfield, M. Nic Craith and W. Logan eds. Cultural Diversity, Heritage and Human Rights : Intersections in Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.
  • 2009 'Courting Transgression: Customary Law and Sexual Violence in Aboriginal Australia.' In H. Donnan and F. Magowan (eds) Transgressive Sex: Subversion and Control in Erotic Encounters. Oxford: Berghahn. Pp. 211-34
  • 2009  Sexual Transgression, Social Order and the Self (with H. Donnan) In H. Donnan and F. Magowan (eds) Transgressive Sex: Subversion and Control in Erotic Encounters. Oxford: Berghahn. Pp. 1-24.
  • 2007 ‘Globalisation and Indigenous Christianity: Translocal Emotions in Australian  Aboriginal Christian Song’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Vol 14 no. 6: 459-83. 
  • 2007 'This is Our Story: Performing, Recording and Archiving Yolngu Cultural Heritage.' In M. Nic Craith and U. Kockel (eds.) Cultural Heritages as Reflexive Traditions. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2005 ‘Playing With Meaning: Perspectives on Culture, Commodification and Contestation around the Didjeridu’, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol.37: 80-102.
  • 2005 ‘Drums of Suffering in Belfast’s European Capital of Culture Bid: John Blacking on Music, Conflict and Healing’ In V. Rodgers and D. Symons (eds) The Legacy of John Blacking: essays on music, culture and society. Perth : UWA Press. Pp. 56-78.
  • 2005 ‘Experiencing Spirit: Religious Processes of Interaction and Unification in Aboriginal Australia ’ In P. Brock (ed.) Indigenous Peoples and Religious Change. Leiden, Boston : Brill. 

Entry on PURE research portal

Queen's Teaching Award

In 2007, Professor Magowan was the first recipient of a Queen's University Teaching Award in the School of History and Anthropology.  For further information on the award see links below.



Expressive Cultures: Sound, Text and Image, ESA1001

Dissertation Writing, ANT3030

Performance, Power and Passion, ESA2003, 3003

Sex and Gender: Anthropological Perspectives, SAN2020 SAN3030


Current PhD Supervision

Nan Zhao: The Effect of Tourism on Children in HemuVillage, Xinjiang (Visiting scholar)

Alice Neeson: Envisioning Reconciliation: Media practice as a tool of conflict transformation

Wu Wanting:Constructing minority identities through Ethnic Dance in Beijing, China

Ranmalie Jayawardana: Conflict, Human Rights and Performance in Sri Lanka

Jonathan Gregory: Gendered Sound, Space and Instruments: An Ethnography of Carnival in Cape Town, South Africa

(Second Supervisor):

Ray De Bono Roberts: Charismatic Catholicism in Malta

Amelia Seifert: Nez Perce Indian Horse Culture in the 21st Century

Koichi Samuels: Performing Ability: Exploring the individual and social outcomes of inclusive music-making through assistive technologies

David Kanter


PhDs Completed (First Supervisor)

Hilary Foye (2015) Christianity, Conflict and Community: Expressions of Faith, Emotion and Personhood in the Contemporary Church. 

Renato Castro (2014) Picturing the past: Technologies of musical knowledge in nineteenth century Rio de Janeiro 

Theodore Konkouris (2013) Heroes, Gunpowder, Cassettes and Tape Recorders: Production, Distribution and Transmission of a Musical Tradition

in Mali West Africa

Jaime Rollins-McColgan (2012) Parading Identity, Memory and Commemoration in Northern Ireland

Julissa Ossorio-Bermudez (2011) Negotiating Gender among Muslim Girls through Popular Music in Northern Ireland.

Gordon Ramsey (2010) Music, Emotion and Identity in Ulster-Scots Communities.

Sally Walmsley-Pledl (2007) Playing A-Part Together: Negotiating Participation, Practice and Meaning in Voluntary Music Associations in East Bavaria.

Jonathan McIntosh (2006) Meaning through Tradition: Children's Practice and Performance of Dance, Music and Song in South-central Bali.

(Second supervisor)

Beatrice Prentice (2012) Latin Oxford: Dominance, Power and Gender Roles Dancing Salsa     

Elina Rowley (2011) The Management of Shark Populations in Townsville, Qld. Australia

Ioannis Tsioulakis (2011) 'Working or Playing?': Power, Aesthetics and Cosmopolitanism among professional musicians in Athens 

Noomi Mozard (2010) Cultural Representations of Nature in Venezuela


Relevant website addresses

Royal Irish Academy Committee for Social Sciences

Anthropological Association of Ireland:

International Council for Traditional Music: