Dr Mahesh Radhakrishnan

Dr Mahesh Radhakrishnan

Position: Visiting Fellow
School and/or Centres: School of Archaeology and Anthropology

Email: Mahesh.Radhakrishnan@anu.edu.au

Location: AD Hope Building, Room LG25


PhD (Macquarie University, 2013, winner Australian PhD Prize for Innovations in Linguistics); BA Hons (Macquarie University, awarded 2006). 

Dr. Mahesh Radhakrishnan is a scholar with a broad research interest in many aspects of language, music and culture and their points of intersection. He holds a PhD in Linguistics from Macquarie University, Sydney, for a thesis on Irish traditional singing and South Indian classical Carnatic singing in Australia. Mahesh is currently working on an ethnographic project titled Irish sean-nós and linguistic ecologies of traditional song in collaboration with Dr. Lillis O’Laoire (National University of Ireland) focusing on the Aran Islands in remote Ireland as well as research on Jawoyn narrative with mentor Prof. Francesca Merlan.

Mahesh has taught Sociolinguistics and Language and Culture at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels at Macquarie University, given guest lectures on Indian performance at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and taught academic literacy in both the university and vocational education sector. He has worked as Research Officer/Assistant on research projects on second language learning, language attitudes and Indigenous storytelling. His linguistic expertise has been sought for language technology projects at Appen Pty Ltd.

Mahesh has convened academic discussions including the Sung Poetry group (founded by Prof. Alan Rumsey) since 2012, an interdisciplinary group exploring sung performance based at the ANU, and a workshop on ‘Language as Performance’ the Australian Linguistics Society in 2013. In addition to his research on music Mahesh is also a singer, musician and composer with over 20 years of training and experience in the Carnatic tradition and has explored a range of styles, particularly Irish traditional sean-nós and instrumental music. He has directed and advised on music for stage productions and leads the world-folk music group Tapestries of Sound which he founded in 2002. His plans are to pursue exciting research and creative projects which further our understanding of language and music around the world, find innovative ways to encourage linguistic and cultural diversity and, in particular, deepen his engagement and understanding of Indigenous Australian language and culture.

Anthropological linguistics; ethnomusicology; traditional singing and music (particularly Indian and Irish); languages (particularly Tamil and Irish); poetics; ecolinguistics; performance studies; language socialisation; Australian languages; linguistic diversity; diaspora.

Radhakrishnan, M (2016) 'South Indian Carnatic singing and Irish Sean-nós - an ethnographic, musical and linguistic comparison', Folk Life, 54:1, 32-48. 


Radhakrishnan, M 2013 ‘Performer talk in Irish traditional singing performances in Australia’, Proceedings of the 2012 Conference of the Australian Linguistics Society, John Henderson, Marie-Eve Ritz and Celeste Rodríguez-Luoro (eds).

Radhakrishnan, M 2013 ‘Music on the move’, Language on the Move blog (http://www.languageonthemove.com/music-on-the-move/)

Radhakrishnan, M 2012 'Musicolinguistic artistry of niraval in Carnatic vocal music' in Ponsonnet M L Dao & M Bowler (eds) The 42nd Australian Linguistic Society Conference Proceedings – 2011 (Canberra, 1-4 Dec 2011) Canberra: ANU Research Repository https://digitalcollections.anu.edu.au

Irish traditional singing in Australia

Carnatic singing in Australia

Irish, sean-nós and the linguistic ecologies of traditional singing

Voice in Jawoyn storytelling

Sung Poetry group


Irish traditional singing in the diaspora and Ireland

This page presents images, audio examples and other relevant data from research on Irish traditional singing conducted by ANU Visiting Fellow Dr. Mahesh Radhakrishnan including his doctoral study on Irish traditional singing and South Indian Carnatic singing in Australia (completed in 2012 at Macquarie University) under the supervision of Dr. Verna Rieschild and his 2014 research project 'Irish, sean-nós, and the linguistic ecologies of traditional performance' conducted at ANU under the mentorship of Prof. Lillis Ó Laoire (National University of Ireland).

Audiovisual material

The following are examples of the song 'An Cailín Gaelach', (the Irish Girl), a pastourelle which is often regarded as part of the sean-nós repertoire.

Example 1: Sung by Marc Ó Conaill in Sydney in 2008 (https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/309736557?secret_token=s-n3h8k)

Example 2: Sung by Triantán (led by Judy Pinder) in Sydney in 2009 (https://soundcloud.com/mahesh-radhakrishnan-319915779/an-cailin-gaelach-by-triantan-live-in-2009/s-6xLOn)

Example 3: Sung by Triantán (led by Judy Pinder) in Sydney in 2010 (https://soundcloud.com/mahesh-radhakrishnan-319915779/an-cailin-gaelach-by-triantan-live-in-2010/s-Eb51Y)

Example 4: Sung by John Tom Ó Mianáin in Tory Island in 1950 - archival ethnographic recording (coming soon).

Project Officer (Indigenous Interpreters), National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (since September 2016)

Accreditation Officer (Approved Courses Management), National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (2014-September 2016)

Research Officer/Assistant, AMEP Longitudinal Study, Linguistics, Macquarie University, 2010-2014.

Research Assistant to Prof. Francesca Merlan, Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, 2012-2013.

Linguist/Language Consultant- Appen Butler Hill, 2011-2013.

Tutor, Sociolinguistics (Undergraduate), Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, 2007-2011.

Tutor/co-lecturer, Language and Culture (Masters level), Macquarie University, 2009-2010.

Updated:  6 December 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications