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Yvonne Liao

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Image of Yvonne Liao

Dr Yvonne Liao is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Music. She joined TORCH (and returned to Oxford) in 2017, having read Music as an undergraduate at Christ Church (1999–2002). She worked at Naxos and Universal Music Hong Kong before returning to research in 2012. She completed her doctorate in 2016. In addition to her funded position at the Music Faculty as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, she is also a Non-Stipendiary Postdoctoral Associate in the Humanities at St Cross College.  

Yvonne is a music historian, whose latest research is concerned with the historical modelling of empire/s and treaty port colonialism in music studies. Within that context she is particularly interested in local perspectives of music and human geography, and global perspectives of music and diplomacy. These perspectives meet and clash in her Leverhulme project, ‘Dissonant Empires: Musical Venues in China’s Treaty Ports, 1880s–1940s’. In juxtaposing local and global perspectives, the project explores the tensions between performance, territoriality and internationalism in multi-colonial treaty ports such as Shanghai and Tianjin. Of equal salience is the epistemological dimension of the project: how the treaty port past is reflected (variously) in historiographies East and West, and in present discourses of East-West encounter.               


Music, diplomacy and international history; music and human geography; music, empire and treaty port colonialism; western musical practices in nineteenth- and twentieth-century China; historiographies East and West; archives