Stephen R. Millar

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Research Statement

Stephen R. Millar is Lecturer in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology. His research and teaching focuses on music, conflict, and cultures of resistance, with an emphasis on Britain and Ireland. He is particularly interested in the social impact of music-making and his work uses music as a platform to examine some of the most pressing concerns of our times, including militant nationalism, social inclusion, and the legacy of colonialism. 
Stephen has written on topics ranging from football culture and state censorship to the role of music in engaging hard-to-reach young people, and from music as (post)colonial struggle to community experiences of sectarianism. His work has been published in a broad range of academic journals, including the British Journal of Music Education, Ethnomusicology Forum, Health & Social Care in the Community, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Managing Sport and Leisure, Music & Politics, Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, Race & Class, and Scottish Affairs. Stephen is co-editor of Football and Popular Culture (Routledge 2021) and Football, Politics, and Identity (Routledge 2021).
Stephen's first book Sounding Dissent: Rebel Songs, Resistance, and Irish Republicanism (University of Michigan Press 2020) explores how Irish republicans have used rebel songs to resist against the hegemonic power of the British state. Drawing on three years of sustained fieldwork within the rebel music scene, the book challenges the parameters of the postcolonial and reconceptualises political resistance through sound, using rebel songs to understand the history of political violence in Ireland. Sounding Dissent has received excellent reviews across a range of journals and disciplines including Ethnomusicology Forum, Irish Political Studies, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological InstituteOral History, and Popular Music. It was awarded a High Commendation in the British Association for Irish Studies Book Prize (2021).
Stephen's current book project, under contract with Oxford University Press, examines the interconnection between Ulster loyalist songs and political violence in Northern Ireland from the Troubles to the present. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the project unravels the role songs play in inciting violence during war and legitimising structural violence during peace, examining their embeddedness in paramilitarism and inter-communal conflict. It explores why musicians and audiences continue to consume loyalist songs, and how, in the wake of Brexit, such songs form part of a cultural nostalgia for multiple and intersecting imagined pasts, which resonate with the rise of populism in other parts of the world. The project is the first of its kind and will include an online archive of political music-making. ‘Songs of the Northern Ireland Conflict’ (SoNIC) will show how political song of diverging persuasions commented on and connected with the social and political landscape in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and how political song continues to shape present-day issues and identities. 
Before joining the faculty at Queen's, Stephen was Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam (2021-23); a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Ethnomusicology at Cardiff University (2018-21); Lead Researcher on the EU-funded 'COOL Music' project at Glasgow Caledonian University (2017-18); a Visiting Research Fellow in Popular Music and Popular Culture at the University of Limerick (2016-17); and a Researcher on the 'Community Experiences of Sectarianism' project at the University of Stirling (2014-15). Stephen was awarded his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Queen’s University Belfast in 2017 and also holds an M.Phil. in Music from the University of Cambridge, a B.Mus. in Music from the University of Glasgow, and a B.A. in Politics from the University of Strathclyde.


ANT1001: Being Human: Culture and Society

ANT2022: Key Debates in Anthropology

ESA3013 Music, Power and Conflict

ANT7007: Advanced Anthropological Methods

ANT7023: Anthropology of Conflict

ANT7013: Anthropology of Music

IRS7011: Belfast: Place, Memory and Identity in a Contested City

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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