SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Professor Angela Impey

B.Mus (Cape Town) BA Hons (KwaZulu Natal) PhD (Indiana), SFHEA
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications



Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Aurélie Solenne Gandour, Mixed-gender barbershop singing: Shifting tradition through the performative negotiations of gender (working title)
  • Hugo Hadji, Listening to New Raï: Algerian identities in the 21st century.
  • James Anthony Gardner, The Course of the Hand: Formulas, Creativity and Processes of "Improvisation" in Mande Kora Music
  • Maya Youssef, A Musical Intervention with Syrian Refugee Children at the Camps
  • Michael Davidson, Growing Through Music: Developing Teaching For Personal and Social Outcomes within Instrumental Music Teaching in UK
  • Robbie Campbell, Dyslexia, Sensory Ethnomusicology, and Chopi timbila Xylophone Music in Mozambique
  • Ros Hawley, A Reflexive Study of Music Practice in a UK Paediatric Hospital Setting
  • Sam Grant, Metal Music and its Relationship to Folk Music and National Identity in the Middle East


Personal Research

My current research focuses on ethno-ornithology, climate change and the soundworlds of the Africa-Eurasia flyways. Focusing on African Drylands, it aims to build epistemological and methodological coherence between disparate climate ontologies, linking remotely-sensed data on climate change with ‘intimately-sensed’ quotidian knowledge of birds and environmental conditions as curated by indigenous and local communities. It argues that local observations of avian phenology have the potential to complement scientific data with detail that may be critical for modelling climate change scenarios on a broader spatial and temporal scale. So too may it provide valuable insight into mitigation actions that sustain the resilience of people and their biocultural systems at interconnected local, regional and global scales. The project uses sound as the portal through which we build our analysis, arguing that environmental listening is core to local ecological literacies, and sound in turn, shapes ontological performativities such as songs, language, and ritual action.

Previous Project

From 2002 to 2010, I researched women’s mobilities in the borderlands of South Africa, Mozambique and eSwatini where the landscape that has been dramatically reconfigured by transboundary conservation development. This research built on narratives inspired by memories of the mouth harp – an instrument that had once been widely performed by young Nguni women to accompany walking, but remembered now by elderly women only – and explored how meanings given to gendered mobilities through sound, song and song routes inflect shifting experiences of land, livelihoods and senses of belonging. My monograph, Song Walking. Women, music, and environmental justice in
an African Borderland (University of Chicago Press 2018) received American Musicology Society (AMS) Publication Subvention Award (2018), The Society for Ethnomusicology Marcia Herndon Prize (2019), First runner-up, African Studies Association Aidoo-Snyder Prize, (2019) and Sole Commendation, British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize, 2020.

Previous Project

(2009-2011) I collaboration with the Department of Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh on an AHRC-funded project, entitled ‘Metre and Melody in Dinka Speech and Song’. The project, which fell under the ‘Beyond Text: Performances, Sounds, Images, Objects’ Programme, focused on supra-segmental features in four Dinka dialect clusters in South Sudan and examined how song systems interact with the unique combinations of tone, length and voice quality specifications of the language. The research also sought to better understand Dinka song-making as a vital form of oral history and truth-telling, which led to the publication of several journal articles and book chapters on song and transformative justice in South Sudan. Our children’s song book, which was one of the first written documents produced in Dinka orthography, was distributed to primary schools across South Sudan and the Dinka diaspora to support universal mother-tongue
literacy training (click here for more information). All recordings from the project are available in the British Library Sound Archives.

Previous Project

(2013-2018) I worked in west Namibia on a project entitled ‘Future Pasts: Sustainabilities and Cultural Landscapes in West Namibia’. The research was funded by a AHRC’s 'Environmental Change and Sustainability' Large Grant under the Council's ‘Care for the Future’ scheme. The project, which was a collaboration between environmental anthropologists, Sian Sullivan (PI), Chris Low and Mike Hannis (Bath Spa University) and Rick Rohde (University of Edinburgh), sought to better understand the long histories of adaptation amongst those Khoesān communities that inhabit some of the country’s most arid regions, and focused in particular on perceptions of environmental change as encoded in songs, oral narratives and healing rituals. The project was affiliated locally with the National Museum of Namibia and the Namibian film company, Mamokobo Productions, from whom I commissioned the film, Damara Kings Festival, which was nominated for the 2017 AHRC Research in Film awards.


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Available for
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Radio
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
Country Expertise
  • Botswana
  • Ethiopia
  • Mozambique
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Zimbabwe


Authored Books

Impey, Angela (2018) Song Walking: Women, music, and environmental justice in an African borderland. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.


Impey, Angela (2019) 'Activism, advocacy and community engagement: Ethnomusicological Responses to Contemporary Dynamics of Migrants and Refugees'. Ethnomusicology, (63) 2, pp 279-314.

Impey, Angela (2013) 'The Poetics of Transitional Justice in Dinka Songs in South Sudan'. UNISCI Discussion Papers 33, pp 57-78.

Impey, Angela (2013) 'Songs of Mobility and Belonging: Gender, Spatiality and the Local in Southern Africa’s Transfrontier Conservation Development'. Interventions. International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, (15) 2, pp 255-271.

Impey, Angela (2013) 'Keeping in Touch via Cassette: Tracing Dinka Songs from Cattle Camp to Transnational Audio-Letter'. Journal of African Cultural Studies, (25) 2, pp 197-210.

Pavlicevic, Mercédès and Impey, Angela (2013) 'Deep listening: towards an imaginative reframing of health and well-being practices in international development'. Arts and Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, (5) 3, pp 238-252.

Dovey, Lindiwe and Impey, Angela (2010) ''African Jim': sound, politics, and pleasure in early 'black' South African cinema'. Journal of African Cultural Studies, (22) 1, pp 57-73.

Impey, Angela (2007) 'Pathways of Song: Re-voicing Women's Landscapes in the Maputaland Borderlands.'. Agenda. Feminist Media, (73), pp 102-16.

Impey, Angela (2007) 'Sound, memory and dis/placement: Exploring sound, song and performance as oral history in the southern African borderlands'. Oral History Journal, (36) 1, pp 33-44.

Impey, Angela (2006) 'Sounding Place in the Western Maputaland Borderlands.'. Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa, (3), pp 55-79.

Impey, Angela (2006) 'Musical Constructions of Place: Linking Music to Environmental Action in the St Lucia Wetlands.'. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education, (23), pp 92-106.

Impey, Angela (2002) 'Culture, Conservation and Community Reconstruction: Explorations in Participatory Action Research and Advocacy Ethnomusicology in the Dukuduku Forests, Northern KwaZulu Natal (South Africa)'. Yearbook for Traditional Music, (34), pp 9-24.

Edited Books or Journals

Fifer, Julian and Impey, Angela and Kirchschlaeger, Peter G. and Nowak, Manfred and Ulrich, George, (eds.), (2022) The Routledge Companion to Music and Human Rights. New York: Routledge. (Routledge Companion Series and Routledge SOAS Studies in Music.).

Book Chapters

Impey, Angela (2022) 'Orality and the poetics of forgiveness in South Sudan'. In: Fifer, Julian and Impey, Angela and Kirchschlaeger, Peter G. and Nowak, Manfred and Ulrich, George, (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Music and Human Rights. New York: Routledge, pp 127-139.

Ulrich, George and Impey, Angela (2022) 'Introduction'. In: Fifer, Julian and Impey, Angela and Kirchschlaeger, Peter G. and Nowak, Manfred and Ulrich, George, (eds.), Routledge Companion to Music and Human Rights. New York: Routledge, pp 1-11.

Impey, Angela (2021) 'Performing Transitional Justice: Song, Truth-telling and Memory in South Sudan'. In: Diamond, Beverley and El-Shawan Castelo-Branco, Salwa, (eds.), Transforming Ethnomusicology Volume I: Methodologies, Institutional Structures, and Policies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cottrell, Stephen and Impey, Angela (2018) 'Community Music and Ethnomusicology'. In: Bartleet, Brydie-Leigh and Higgins, Lee, (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Community Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 525-541.

Impey, Angela (2015) 'Sound, Memory and Dis/placement: Exploring Sound, Song and Performance as Oral History in the Southern African Borderlands'. In: Perks, Robert and Thomson, Alistair, (eds.), Oral History Reader, 3rd edition. Abingdon; New York: Routledge.

Impey, Angela (2015) 'Audio-letters from South Sudan: Tracing Dinka networks, connections and intimacies beyond the war zone'. In: Harris, Rachel and Pease, Rowan, (eds.), Pieces of the Musical World: Sounds and Cultures. Abingdon; New York: Routledge.

Impey, Angela (2015) '“Song of Akuac”: Audio-letters from South Sudan: Tracing Dinka Networks, Connections, and Intimacies beyond the war zone.'. In: Harris, Rachel and Pease, Rowan, (eds.), Pieces of the Musical World. Sounds and Culture. New York and London: Routledge, pp 195-207.

Impey, Angela (2011) 'Songs of the In-Between: Remembering in the Land that memory Forgot'. In: Ian, Peddie, (ed.), Popular Music and Human Rights. London: Ashgate, pp 39-52.

Impey, Angela (2005) 'Culture, Conservation and Community Reconstruction: Explorations in Advocacy Ethnomusicology in the Dukuduku Forests, Northern KwaZulu Natal'. In: Post, Jennifer, (ed.), Ethnomusicology: A Contemporary Reader. New York: Routledge, pp 401-411.

Book Reviews

Impey, Angela (2010) 'Review of Jürgen Schöpf, 'The Serankure and Music in Tlôkweng, Botswana'. Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 2008'. The World of Music, (51) 2, pp 168-169.

Impey, Angela (2009) 'Review of Mark Slobin (ed.), 'Global Soundtracks: Worlds of Film Music'. Middletown CT, Wesleyan University Press, 2008'. Ethnomusicology Forum, (18) 1, pp 170-172.

Impey, Angela (2005) 'Review of Christine Lucia (ed.), 'The World of South African Music. A Reader'. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005'. Ethnomusicology Forum, (16) 2, pp 343-345.


This list was last generated on Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 10:19 Europe/London.