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Shanika Ranasinghe

Postgraduate Researcher in the Department of Music, Royal Holloway University of London

I am currently a part-time PhD student in the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, having previously attended Goldsmiths and the University of Oxford (see Educational Background for more information). A reticent performer, I play piano (diploma standard) and violin (Grade 8 standard) and can sing alto. I am passionate about music education and outreach.

My PhD thesis examines this extraordinary phenomenon of twenty-first-century ABBA fandom through rich, dialogic ethnography. It asks questions such as: who is perpetuating the music and legacy of ABBA – the fans, ABBA, or someone else? – and for what purposes and end goals? Who do ABBA really belong to – to ABBA, their fans, or some other group? – and how have ABBA and their music been appropriated over the years? The thesis is important to wider anthropological, ethnomusicological and fan studies discourses in its exploration of ABBA fandom as a gift economy. By looking at how fans give to ABBA (historically and at present) and vice versa, the thesis brings to light the expectations and pressures on both sides, within this dynamic and ever-evolving relationship – which, I argue, is real, mutual and valid, as opposed to pathological or para-social.


  • –present
    Researcher, Royal Holloway