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Durham University



Miss Joanna Heath, MA (Dunelm) BA (Hons) DipABRSM

Member of the Department of Music

Contact Miss Joanna Heath (email at


Joanna Heath is an ethnomusicologist whose MA by Research in Music consisted of a thesis about Mizo lengkhawm zai. This is a style of congregational singingwhich she studied for six months in Mizoram in 2011 and 2012 while teaching music at the Academy of Integrated Christian Studies, Aizawl. Prior to this, her BA Music dissertation, also from Durham, relied on her experience of Christian music of the Manobo people in the Philippines whom she visited in 2010.

On completing her MA, Joanna returned to spend another year as a volunteer music teacher at AICS. For her PhD research, she has turned her attention to the subject of community singing at funerals, where lengkhawm zai is practised in a very different context from the Christmas gatherings, with new opportunities for interdisciplinary work with theological and psychological approaches to grief and lamentation.

Joanna will return to Mizoram for fieldwork in January 2014. Apart from her studies, she enjoys finding time to play bassoon and recorder. As an undergraduate she was President of the Orchestral Society and Chair of the Ecumenical Christian Council. She continues to worship at her local Baptist church in Durham as well as at Taizé meetings.

Papers and Articles

‘Unscheduled Music of a Scheduled Tribe: Spontaneity in the Mizo Zaikhawm Worship Context’. Graduate Student Panel of the Indian Musicological Society, Mumbai, 18th January 2013

‘Music and Missionary Encounter’. Shekina: Imago Dei, AICS Magazine, February 2013

Lengkhawm Zai: A Singing Tradition of Mizo Christianity in Northeast India. MA Thesis, University of Durham, January 2013 (

‘Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken’. Durham University Music Department postgraduate seminar, 2012 [adapted for publication in Shekina: Imago Dei, AICS Magazine, February 2013, under the Mizo title: ‘Nangma Thil Ropuite An Sawi’]

‘Faith in the Field’, Durham University Music Department symposium on ‘Fieldwork’, 2012.

Awards Received

Dr Premlata Sharma Award for Promising Musicologist, Indian Musicological Society conference, Mumbai, 18th January 2013.

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence, Durham University, Autumn 2009.

Michael James Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Durham Music Department, Autumn 2009.

Joanna is also a beneficiary of the travel fund and the Million Shilling Fund at St John’s College, Durham. Her PhD is funded by the AHRC.

Research Interests

  • Construction of identity with modern musical traditions
  • Cultural and stylistic compatibility in musical encounter
  • Indigenous Christian worship music with specialist interest in Mizo and Manobo contexts
  • Music at times of grief and lamentation, especially community singing