Lee Veeraraghavan

  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow


Sound studies, Canadian music, Indigenous studies, environmental humanities, critical theory


My research explores the ways that the nation is built through the ear, focusing on contemporary practices that produce and maintain settler colonialism in Canada. The ear has been posited as a site—a sense organ and a topic—where inclusion and exclusion takes place. In fields ranging from the philosophical to the political, legal, and of course musical, the ear hears—but it also understands, differentiates, regulates, or fails. These discourses may seem abstract, but they are nonetheless pertinent to conditions in the Canadian liberal settler colony, where Indigenous people(s) are included and excluded through various governmental and juridical apparatuses. There is moreover a markedly Canadian intellectual tradition connecting the production of the nation to the ear.

I am dedicated to exploring the space of the Indigenous within contemporary liberalism even as it trembles, and the challenge of connecting material concerns (whether that is the economic apparatus, the earth, or the body) with the production of musical meaning. My dissertation was an ecomusicological study based on fieldwork among radical environmentalists and Indigenous sovereigntists who are trying to prevent oil and gas pipeline development on Canada’s west coast. Although it grew out of ethnographic research, it is also a historical project that highlights the role of the ear at key nodes in Canada’s existence as a liberal settler colony. My research traces how the current regime of aurality—by which Indigenous people(s) are displaced from their land—came to be by showing how techniques and technologies of hearing are used to create the Indigenous as a separate category of personhood that can then be subject to colonial governmentality.

Other projects include the collaborative development over the long term of a critical methodology for music scholars working with Indigenous communities, and a second book project on music, trauma, and the medicalized subject that explores how conflicting approaches to sublimating trauma are mobilized by governmental institutions. My aim for this monograph is to trace an aesthetic regime associated with the autonomous liberal subject of public health, and to explore how musical healing practices used by Indigenous people become legible within that frame.

Current Courses

Fundamentals of Music Theory (Fall 2019)

Music, Arts, and Conflict: Music and Social Movements (Spring 2020)


“The Limits of Representation and the Silence of the Law.” Contested Frequencies, eds. Joanna Love and Jessie Fillerup (in preparation).

“Pipeline Hearings and the Gerrymandering of Aurality in British Columbia, Canada” (in preparation)

Select Presentations

Panelist, Sounding Indigeneity in the Anthropocene: An Auditory Anthropology of Power and Resistance. American Anthropological Association Conference (Vancouver, BC, November 2019)

“The Medium, the Message, and the Magistracy: Sound Technology as Colonial Law in British Columbia, Canada.” Society for Ethnomusicology Conference (Bloomington, IN, November 2019)

“Stepping into an Unsettled Future: Repetition, Temporality, and the Sublimation of Trauma in a Live Show by A Tribe Called Red.” International Association for the Study of Popular Music – Canada (Toronto, ON, May 2017)

“Re-examining Schafer: Indigenous Vocality and Sound Ecology.” Society for Ethnomusicology Conference (Austin, TX, December 2015)

“Ear Cleaning and Throat Clearing: Aurality and Indigenous Activism in Canada.” Society for Ethnomusicology Conference (Indianapolis, IN, November 2013)

“Building Bridges: Hip Hop and Healing Among Canada’s First Nations.” International Council for Traditional Music Conference (St. John’s, Newfoundland, July 2011)

Education and Training

PhD in Ethnomusicology, University of Pennsylvania, 2017

MA in Music Theory, University of Western Ontario, 2007

BMus in Music Theory and Composition, University of Western Ontario, 2005

Faculty Groupings

Core Faculty
Arts and Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow