Dr Phil Alexander

Job title:

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow


Phil Alexander is a British Academy research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, where he studies historical Scottish-Jewish musical interactions. His book Sounding Jewish in Berlin: klezmer and the contemporary city will be published with Oxford University Press in early 2021. Phil is also a busy musician, leading the band Moishe’s Bagel and collaborating regularly with folk and jazz musicians around the UK and beyond.


Current teaching:

MMus Introduction to Musicology

MMus Research Methods


My research examines the role of sound and music in the negotiation of Scottish-Jewish identity during a period that saw the largest Jewish migration to Scotland and the consolidation of significant communities in Edinburgh and Glasgow. My project is the first detailed study of Scottish-Jewish music and makes full use of a valuable and underused archival resource. I am seeking to understand how Scotland’s Jews used music to navigate both difference and acculturation, with specific attention to religious music, jazz and classical music, representations of Jewish sound within Scottish culture, and points of linguistic hybridity. I also examine what the wider historical Scottish-Jewish soundscape can tell us about patterns of exchange and dialogue between host and immigrant communities. This study of Scotland’s rapidly changing Jewish history presents important alternative narratives of British-Jewish life. It is also a timely opportunity to document one aspect of a dynamic but shrinking community.