Vít Zdrálek

Mgr. Vít Zdrálek, Ph.D.

  • (Agenda) - Institute of Musicology
Consulting hours
  • ZS 2023: středa 9-10 (nejlépe po domluvě)

Institute of Musicology
Místnost č. 404

Research interests

  • Ethnomusicology
  • South African popular and religious musical culture
  • Cultural study of music


2015, Ph.D., Musicology, Charles University

2005-2006, international exchange student, University of Pretoria

2004, Mgr., Music Education and History, University of Hradec Králové

Dissertation research

In my PhD thesis Mapping the Individual Musical Experience in Post-Apartheid South Africa: A Bio-Ethnography of Township Dweller Lesiba Samuel Kadiaka (2015) I explored the possibilities of combining ethnography and biography in writing about South African music, a field with a long history of structuring scholarly approaches along lines of firmly conceived cultural and social identities. I tried to offer a fresh view by ‘writing across’ boundaries and demonstrate a potential model for bio-ethnography. My subject was a middle-aged male Mamelodi township dweller, a musician and a member of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), the largest ‘African initiated’ indigenous church in South Africa. Assuming a perspective of the theory of practice, I examined how he had negotiated his cultural and social position throughout his life and I mapped his individual musical experience onto the wider cultural and social experience of being a poor person living in a township between apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. By transgressing the ready-made categories of cultural and social identity in South African (music) research my interlocutor’s example proved the sustainability of complex musical practice and meaning production as well as the complex construction of individual subjectivity, even in such a deterritorialized, fragmenting and collapsing world as modern South Africa.

The ethnography was based on over 12 months of fieldwork conducted in five periods between 2006 and 2011. The text drew on semi-structured and unstructured interviews, song texts and participant observations of Kadiaka’s various musical activities, which included composition, accordion playing and performing his own topical and religious songs, most notably on commuter trains but also at other private and public events related to ZCC rituals. Overlaps and (dis)continuities between seemingly separate worlds were carefully examined in order to deconstruct the above mentioned cultural binaries and methodological dichotomies. Close attention was paid to ZCC musical repertories and their meanings, and Samuel’s own private collection of photographs from the 1980s and 90s became a valuable source of information, offering a unique reflection on his personal, historical and social trajectory. The text was written as a reflexive ethnography in which I interrogated my own position as a Czech subject in a ‘foreign’ culture and revealed the intimacy of the relationship between researcher and researched as well as the non-linear, complex process of acquiring ethnographic knowledge.

Other current research

Between 2017-2020, I was an external member of the research team in the three-year long project Weight and Weightlessness of the Folklore: The Folklore Movement of the Second Half of the 20th Century in the Czech Lands (grant by The Czech Science Foundation 17-26672S) hosted by The Czech Academy of Sciences and lead by Daniela Stavělová.


2016, Bolzano Award of the Charles University for the best dissertation in humanities and social sciences.

Recent conferences

2021, co-organizer of the conference Viva Africa 2021: Africa and (the Other) Europe: Imageries – Discourses – Exchanges, Charles University, online.

2021, co-convenor of the panel Ethnomusicology and music anthropology at the 6th biennial CASA conference 2021, Prague, online.

2020, Postcommunism, the African ‘outside’, and ‘the denial of coevalness’: The situation of African studies in the Czech Republic, Africa Knows! It is time to decolonise minds, Universiteit Leiden, online.

2018, „The dangerous supplement that takes-(the)-place: Derridean reading of the ’folklore movement’ in the Czech Republic“, BFE Annual Conference, University of Newcastle.

2017, “We all know that, don’t we?” Situating the scholarly knowledge about the Czech ‘folk music movement’ (preliminary thoughts), International Symposium Folklore Revival Movement of the Second Half of the 20th Century, Academy of Performing Arts, Prague.

2017, Filling the Void of Post-Apartheid: Miracles of the Zion Christian Church in the Life of South African Township Dweller, 7th European Conference on African Studies, ECAS7, University of Basel.

2017, What is in a Song? Performing Subjectivity and Performing the Nation in a South African Township, BFE Annual Conference, University of Sheffield.

Academic membership


Current teaching

Since 2012, I and my colleague Tereza Havelková have taught the bachelor’s and master’s research seminar combining perspectives of cultural analysis and ethnomusicology in the study of music.



  • Zdrálek V.: Etnomuzikologie: Velmi krátký úvod. Praha, Nakladatelství Karolinum, 2020. 150 s. • p. ISBN 978-80-246-4596-4.
  • Zdrálek V.: Steingo, Gavin. Kwaito's Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016. 320 pp. ISBN 978-0-226-36240-3 (hardback). Archiv Orientální, 2018, č. • no. 85, s. • p. 548-552. ISSN 0044-8699.
  • Zdrálek V.: Choir on the Suburban Train: Creating a Sense of Solidarity among Black South African Train Commuters. In Machalík T., Mildnerová M.: Tradition versus modernity in contemporary Africa. Praha, Česká asociace pro africká studia, 2014, s. • p. 115-130. ISBN 978-80-260-6370-4.
  • Zdrálek V.: Die Nicht-Politik der Musikforschung: Historische Kontexte einer Sammlung ethnographischer Phonograph-Aufnahmen. In Bajgarová J., Wehrmeyer A.: Zwischen Brücken und Gräben. Deutsch-tschechische Musikbeziehungen in der ČSR der Zwischenkriegszeit / Mosty a propasti. Česko-německé hudební vztahy v meziválečném Československu. Praha, Sudetendeutsches Musikinstitut Regensburg (Träger: Bezirk Oberpfalz) / Etnologický ústav Akademie..., 2014, s. • p. 335-356. ISBN 978-80-87112-89-2.
  • Zdrálek V.: Ne-politika hudebního výzkumu: Historické kontexty jedné sbírky fonografických etnografických nahrávek. In Bajgarová J., Wehrmeyer A.: Mosty a propasti. Česko-německé hudební vztahy v meziválečném Československu / Zwischen Brücken und Gräben. Deutsch-tschechische Musikbeziehungen in der ČSR der Zwischenkriegszeit. Praha, Etnologický ústav Akademie věd České republiky, v. v. i. / Sudetendeutsches Musikinstitut Regensb..., 2014, s. • p. 301-320. ISBN 978-80-87112-89-2.
  • Zdrálek V.: Michael Largey: Vodou Nation. Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago a Londýn 2006, XVI 283 s. Hudební věda, 2012, č. • no. 49, s. • p. 85-89. ISSN 0018-7003.
  • Zdrálek V.: Martin Stokes: The Republic of Love. Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago a Londýn 2010, XVIII 219 s. Hudební věda, 2012, č. • no. 49, s. • p. 81-85. ISSN 0018-7003.
  • Zdrálek V.: Mamelodi house: Hudební etnografie jednoho jihoafrického úniku. His Voice, 2011, č. • no. 10, s. • p. 40-44. ISSN 1213-2438.
  • Zdrálek V.: Mieczyslav Kolinski and German Musicology in Prague Between 1930 and 1945. In Ziegler S.: Historical Sources and Source Criticism. Stockholm, Svenskt visarkiv, 2010, s. • p. 59-68. ISBN 978-91-977013-7-2.

See the Charles University database (Verso)

See the Czech Academy of Sciences repository (ASEP)

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