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Durham University



Dr Lara Pearson, PhD, MA Ethnomusicology

Member of the Department of Music

Contact Dr Lara Pearson (email at


Lara Pearson is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Tübingen and also teaches part-time at Durham University Music Department, most recently delivering the second term of the level-1 Introduction to Ethnomusicology Module. She completed her doctorate on Karnatak (South Indian) music and gesture in 2016 at Durham University. This research was founded on several years of learning to play Karnatak violin and mridangam in South India prior to beginning her PhD fieldwork.

Lara’s research examines musical structure, aesthetics, and pedagogy from an embodied perspective. In addition to providing insight into Karnatak music, her work addresses important questions regarding the nature of musical experience and musical meaning. Her research stands out in the field for its interdisciplinary approach, using concepts and methods from the fields of ethnomusicology, embodied music cognition, aesthetics, linguistics, and gesture studies.

Drawing on her previous professional experience in film production, Lara uses video as a means of collecting data and prompting discussion in interviews, as well as a medium through which to convey ethnography. Her film 'Alapana: Four Views of Movement in Karnatak Music' was chosen to be shown at the Royal Anthropological Institute Festival of Ethnographic Film in 2013.

Research interests include South Indian music, embodied music cognition, aesthetics, music analysis, enactivism, gesture, music pedagogy, improvisatory processes, and the politics of cultural heritage.