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Dana Rappoport

CNRS Research Fellow
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Dana Rappoport studies the musical traditions of the Indonesian archipelago through ethnographic fieldwork conducted in two locations: the islands of Sulawesi and Flores. These two locations remain relatively isolated from the great Hindu-Buddhist realms and the Malay sultanates of insular Southeast Asia, which have so far dominated research on the region. Too often ignored by anthropology, the oral traditions of small, rural societies are extremely fruitful fields to analyze, revealing the relationships, forms of action or interaction, the history and the values at work within these groups. Combining techniques of observation and analysis from anthropology and formal musicology, Dana Rappoport’s research seeks to bring out the characteristics of these musical systems, which are a part of the fragmented musical history of the archipelago. These societies, which speak different languages, are characterized by lower densities and less centralized political systems, leaving them remarkably independent from each other. Their musical productions have common attributes that are distinct, not shared with the Indianized or Islamized cultures of Indonesia.


One of the questions running throughout her research is that of the foundation of the musical experience. What leads humans to make music, produce organized sonic forms? In Indonesia, music is rooted in ritual, where it is neither decoration nor recreation, but rather an indispensable action. What does music do, then, and how can we grasp its action? The aim is to explore music as closely as possible through study of practices, musical systems, repertories, rituals, tastes, and emotions, and more generally, through studying the modes of orality that characterize social relationships.


After devoting a large part of her work to the ritual musical productions of the Toraja, Rappoport’s studies are now aimed at the small societies of Eastern Insulindia, located at the contact point between two major linguistic families, Austronesian and Papuan. Is Eastern Insulindia, characterized by great ethno-linguistic diversity, a cultural area properly speaking that music could help us to grasp? We are just now beginning to discern that the musical forms of Eastern Insulindia gather together a series of musical particularities that are quite different from the rest of the archipelago. A synoptic study of the musical practices aims to identify the structuring of this largely under-documented area, which may contribute to the study of the history of settlement in the region.




  • Indonesia, broader Austronesia
  • Since 2006 - eastern Indonesia (Flores, Solor, Adonara, Lembata, Timor...)
  • 1991-2005 - central Indonesia (Sulawesi, West Kalimantan)



  • 2015- Habilitation à diriger des recherches (EHESS) : Ce que la musique fait, Indonésie centrale et orientale. (Committee: J. P. Colleyn, M. Chemillier, M. Tenzer, B. Sellato, J. M. Beaudet)
  • 1997- PhD in Ethnomusicology “Musiques rituelles des Toraja Sa’dan : Musiques du Couchant, musiques du Levant (Célèbes-Sud, Indonésie),” 597 p., Université Paris-X Nanterre.
  • 1991- Master’s in Comparative Literature - Master’s in Musicology (Paris IV-Sorbonne)
  • 1986-1988- Classes préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles, literature section (Lycée La Bruyère, Versailles).
  • Violinist - classical, and Rumanian music



2016-18 - Responsable du Projet Autoritas, Modes d’autorité et conduites esthétiques de l’Asie du Sud à l’Insulinde
Membre du comité éditorial de la revue Archipel
2019-21 - co-partenaire de l’ANR POPEI-Coll "Politiques culturelles, patrimoines locaux  et approches collaboratives" (avec hyperlien


  • Music and social anthropology of East Indonesian societies
  • Musical and linguistic systematics
  • Music and history



  • Music and aesthetics
  • Music and population
  • Music and potent places
  • Transmission of musical heritage




Administrative and research-related responsibilities

  • Member of the editorial board of the journal Archipel
  • Member of the research team on comparative musicology and the anthropology of music
  • Member of the Société Française d’Ethnomusicologie (French Ethnomusicology Society)
  • Member of the Afrase
  • Member of the CASE executive council
  • Associate member of the research team entitled Patrimoines Locaux UMR 208 - IRD/MNHN



See the complete list of Dana Rappoport’s articles


  • 2014- Nyanyian Tana Yang Diperciki Tiga Darah : Seni Suara dan Ritus-Ritus toraja (Sulawesi, Indonesia) , Book-dvdrom, Jakarta, KPG Gramedia
  • 2009- Songs from the Thrice-Blooded Land: Ritual Music of the Toraja (Sulawesi, Indonesia)book-DVDrom, co-publication Editions Epistèmes - Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme. [FRENCH, ENGLISH, INDONESIAN, TORAJA]
  • 2009- Chants de la terre aux trois sangs : Musiques rituelles des Toraja de l’île de Sulawesi, Indonésie book-DVDrom, co-publication Editions Epistèmes - Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme. [DVD-Rom French, English, Indonesian, Toraja] 2011 TOP PICK OF THE ACADEMIE CHARLES CROS. see

Editorship of books or journal issues

  •  2015- L’Est Insulindien, with Dominique Guillaud, Archipel 90, 331 pages.
  • 2015 - Le goût musical, with Nathalie Fernando, Cahiers d’Ethnomusicologie 28, 328 pages.
  • 2010- Musiques d’un Archipel, special issue of the journal Archipel 79, Paris, Association Archipel, 288 pages (with Jérôme Samuel).

CDs and musical archives

  • 2014- Indonesia : Soothing songs/Chants d’apaisement, Ocora Radio France
  • 2012-
  • 2010- Indonesia : Songs from the Islands of Flores and Solor, Archives Internationales de Musique Populaire, VDE CD-1304, booklet : 30 p. 2010 TOP PICK OF THE ACADEMIE CHARLES CROS.
  • 1995- Indonésie : Toraja, funérailles et fêtes de fécondité, LDX 274 1004, Editions CNRS-Chant du Monde.


Book chapters

  • 2015 - Music as evidence of settlement: the case of diphonic singing in Eastern Indonesia (eastern Flores, eastern Timor). In Arka Wayan et al. (eds), Language documentation and cultural practices in the Austronesian world: papers from 12-ICAL, Volume 4, 135-148. Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics.
  • 2017 - « Lumbaa, le dernier poète : l’oralité toraja en question (Sulawesi, Indonésie) », in Katia Buffetrille et Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy ed., Musique et épopée en Haute-Asie. Mélanges offerts à Mireille Helffer à l'occasion de son 90ème anniversaire, p. 117-39. Paris : l’Asiathèque
  • 2015 - Music and Religion in Southeast Asia, in Religion in Southeast Asia : an Encyclopedia of Faiths and Cultures, ed. Jesudas M. Athyal, Santa Barbara : ABC Clio Greenwood: 187-189
  • 2014 -« About ancient musical instruments depicted at Padang Lawas (North Sumatra) », in Daniel Perret ed., History of Padang Lawas, North Sumatra. II. Societies of Padang Lawas (mid-9th-13th century), Paris, Association Archipel, Cahiers d’Archipel 43, p. 159-170.
  • 2013- "Le chant et la peine à Tanjung Bunga (Lamaholot, Flores, Indonésie)", in H. Bouvier ed., L’art du pathétique en Asie du Sud-Est insulaire. Le choix des larmes, Paris, L’Harmattan, p. 60-118.
  • 2013- "Speech and Songs in Toraja Highlands", in Nicole Revel ed. , Songs of Memory in islands of Southeast Asia, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, p. 75-108.
  • 2011- "To sing the rice in Tanjung Bunga (Eastern Flores, Indonesia)", in Birgit Abels ed. Austronesian soundscapes: Performing arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, p. 103-131.
  • 2011- "The enigma of alternated duet in Flores and Solor (Eastern Indonesia)", in Tradition, Identity, and History Making in Eastern Indonesia ; Editor : Hans Hagerdal, (papers from the Sixth Euroseas Conference, Gothenburg, 26-28 august 2010), Växjö, Kalmar, Linnaeus University Press, p. 130-148.



  • 1997-  "Musiques rituelles des Toraja Sa’dan : Musiques du Couchant, musiques du Levant (Célèbes-Sud, Indonésie)", complete publication of the doctoral dissertation, Villeneuve d’Asq, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 597 p.

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