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Prof. Ana Maria Ochoa Wins PSL-EHESS Grant for Conference on "Musical Displacements."

Prof. Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier
The Ethnomusicology community at Columbia congratulates Prof. Ana Maria Ochoa, who has been awared (along with French Ethnomusicologist Denis Laborde) a  École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales/Paris Sciences et Lettres grant in support of a conference to be held in Bayonne, France, entitled "Musical Displacements, Economic Dispossession, and Climate Change."  Our colleague Prof. Alessandra Ciucci will also be involved in the conference, along with historian and friend of the Center, Prof. Alejandra Bronfman (SUNY/Albany). 

Congratulations Ana Maria!

Maria Fantinato Geo de Siqueira Wins GSAS International Travel Fellowship!

Maria Fantinato Geo de Siqueira The Ethnomusicology community at Columbia congratulates 4th year PhD student Maria Fantinato Geo de Siqueira, who has been awarded a 2018-19 International Travel Fellowship by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, in support of her research for her dissertation, entitled "Spectrums of excess: loudness in Amazonian festivities and rethinking the common in Latin America."

Congratulations Maria!

Andrés Garcia-Molina Wins SSRC IDRF and GSAS International Travel Fellowships!

Andres Garcia-Molina
The Ethnomusicology at Columbia congratulates 4th year PhD student Andrés Garcia-Molina, who has been awarded both the Columbia GSAS International Traveling Fellowship and an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council, both of which will support his ongoing research for his dissertation, entitled "Aural Economies and Precarious Labor: Street-Vendor Songs in Cuba."

Congratulations Andrés!

Mario Cancel-Begay Wins GSAS International Travel and Alumni Association Fellowships!

Mario Cancel-Begay
The Columbia Ethnomusicology community is thrilled to congratulate fourth year PhD student Mario Cancel-Begay, who has been awarded both a 2018-19 International Travel Fellowship and a 2018-19 Alumni Association Fund Fellowship for Under-represented Minority Students, both from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia. He will spend next year traveling for research related to his dissertation project, entitled "Rethinking Anticolonial Experience, Meta-Colonial Discourse and the Archive: Bands of Puerto Rican Nueva Canción and Chanson Québécoise with Multi-National Members."

Congratulations Mario!

Prof. Alessandra Ciucci Awarded 2018-19 Rome Prize!

Prof Alessandra CiucciThe Ethnomusicology community at Columbia offers our warmest congratulations to Prof. Alessandra Ciucci, who has been awarded the 2018-2019 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies! She will spend 2018-19 in residence at the American Academy in Rome completing her book, Resonances of the Rural across the Mediterranean: Music, Sound and Migrant Moroccan Men in Italy.

The American Academy in Rome has announced the winners of the 2018–19 Rome Prize and Italian Fellowships. These highly competitive fellowships support advanced independent work and research in the arts and humanities. This year, 29 Rome Prizes were awarded to 29 artists and scholars, who will each receive a stipend, workspace, and room and board for a period of five months to two years at the Academy’s eleven-acre campus in Rome. The Rome Prize and Italian Fellowship winners were presented on April 12, 2018, during the Arthur and Janet C. Ross Rome Prize Ceremony in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium at Cooper Union in New York.

For the full announcement, please see the Academy's website.

Congratulations to Dr. César Colón-Montijo!

The Center for Ethnomusicology and the Ethnomusicology community at Columbia are delighted to congratulate our newest PhD alumnus, Dr. César Colón-Montijo!  Dr. Colón-Montijo successfully defended his dissertation, entitled Specters of Maelo: An Ethnographic Biography of Ismael ‘Maelo’ Rivera, on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.  An abstract of the dissertation is below. 

Dr. Colón-Montijo's dissertation was co-sponsored by Profs. Chris Washburne and Ana Maria Ochoa. 



Congratulations Dr. Colón-Montijo!

ABSTRACT: Specters of Maelo: An Ethnographic Biography of Ismael ‘Maelo’ Rivera
by César Colón-Montijo

Ismael ‘Maelo’ Rivera (1931–1987) is a foundational Afro-Puerto Rican salsa singer. Known among his fans, peers, and contemporary researchers as El Sonero Mayor (loosely, The Greatest Singer-Improviser), Maelo’s voice became inscribed in the aural tapestry of barrios in Latin America and the Caribbean, beginning in the mid-1950s. After his death on May 13, 1987, Maelo has gained a sense of sacredness amongst fans and devotees who identify themselves as maeleros and maelistas in places such as Panama, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. My interlocutors ascribe Maelo’s songs with a particular affective strength that for them differentiates him from other salsa singers. His music has become the medium for the creation of relational bonds that respond to their particular local contexts as well as their personal and collective histories. In both countries, maeleros and maelistas listen to his songs as stories where they find keys to endure the difficulties of day-to-day life in their respective socio-political, cultural, and economic situations. This dissertation studies the friendships and relational affinities maeleros and maelistas articulate through Maelo’s music and biography, examining the creative work they do in order to celebrate his presence in their everyday. 

I argue that Maelo inspires a sense of “secular devotion” (Brennan 2008) amongst his fans through the ways in which he mediates the crossing of the sacred and the profane through his repertoire and life by voicing multiple expressions from diverse Black Atlantic religions. I understand the sense of communion maeleros and maelistas share as a devotional sense of kinship in which friendship, and mainly male friendships, are central. I propose that such mediations of the sacred, and the Maelo-centered sense of devotional kinship I study, must be framed in relation to larger histories of the political definition of life in Latin America and the Caribbean. In such histories, the spectrality of the voice has served both as a tool for casting Black and indigenous groups as unworthy of citizenship and as a means for these groups to endure such marginalization (Ochoa Gautier 2014). By examining the context-specific ways in which Maelo connoisseurs reinterpret his music and life in Venezuela, Panama, and Puerto Rico in his afterlife, this dissertation proposes that maeleros and maelistas enact a political theology that dramatizes the contemporary stakes of larger bio-political histories in which illness has long-been connected to delinquency as tools of power used to police and discipline modern citizen bodies (Ramos 1994). This is vital to one of the central theses of this dissertation: that Maelo’s stories of vocal illness, addiction, and imprisonment—what I call his wounded masculinity—are key to the sense of sacredness he has gained during his afterlife as a spectral figure whose songs, images, and myth accompany his fans, peers, and devotees in their everyday. 

Prof. Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez -- "Cities of the Dead: Performing Life in the Caribbean" (Tues 3/27 6PM)

Event Start: 
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 6:00pm
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusioclogy)
The Center for Ethnomusicology announces a colloquium featuring:

Prof. Jossianna Arroyo-
(The University of Texas, Austin)

"Cities of the Dead: Performing Life in the Caribbean."

Tuesday March 27, 2018
701C Dodge Hall
(The Center for Ethnomusicology, Columbia Univ. Morningside Campus at 116th and Broadway)
Free and Open to the Public
Reception to Follow
For more information or accommodations, please email

Life and death defined the historical and temporal dimensions of the plantation. Many of these material, affective and ritualistic views on life and death haunt contemporary Caribbean cities. This essay will analyze the narrative script of Juan de los muertos (Juan of the Dead) and Eduardo Lalo’s documentary La ciudad perdida (2005) along with the funeral rites performed by Funeraria Marín in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, whose “performative funerals” or collages, have circulated in journals and the Internet, creating what appear to be “living tableaus” or original wakes since 2010. I believe that zombies, the living dead, and the performative dead—are all part of the ways life and death and create sites of individual or collective action. I will be cautious to read these actions merely as forms of agency against the state or neoliberal economies. These necropolitics, to use Achille Mbembe’s term, are more than forms of agency: they “frame” forms of precarious subjectivity, survival, and existence in contemporary Caribbean societies where melancholia is pretty much related to the present.

BIOGRAPHY: Born in Puerto Rico Jossianna Arroyo-Martínez (BA, University of Puerto Rico, 1989, PhD University of California at Berkeley, 1998)  is a literary and cultural studies scholar who specializes in the analysis of Afro-Diasporic literatures and cultures in the Americas, critical race studies, queer studies, and media studies. She is Professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Austin, Texas. She also holds an appointment at the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. She is the author of Travestismos culturales: literatura y etnografía en Cuba y Brasil (Iberoamericana, 2003) a critique of cultural racism in the work of Gilberto Freyre and Fernando Ortiz, and several Cuban and Brazilian novels, and Writing Secrecy in Caribbean Freemasonry (Palgrave, 2013), an analysis of transnational, racial and colonial dimensions of Masonic encounters in the circum-Caribbean and the United States (1850-1898). She has contributing essays on Brazilian and Caribbean Literatures at Lusosex Sexualities in the Portuguese Speaking World (2002); Technofuturos (2008). She has published at Encuentro de la cultura cubanaLa Habana EleganteRevista de Estudios HispánicosJournal of Latino Studies, and CENTRO Journal for Puerto Rican Studies, among many other national and international publications. Her new research project entitled Mediascapes is an analysis of local and transnational Caribbean cultures in new media and their ways of representing race, ethnicity and culture in neoliberal times.

Prof. Giovanni Giuriati: ‘Mbrusino, Liszt, the tarantella montemaranese, and the clarinet" (Thurs 3/29, 6PM)

Event Start: 
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 6:00pm
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusioclogy)

The Center for Ethnomusicology Presents a Collooquium with:

Giovanni Giuriati
(Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Facoltà di Lettere of the Università di Roma “La Sapienza,” and the 
Director of the Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies, Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice.)

"‘Mbrusino, Liszt, the tarantella montemaranese, and the clarinet. Retracing a Process of change in Southern Italy at the end of the 1930s."

Thursday March 29, 2018
701C Dodge Hall (Columbia U. Morningside Campus at 116th St. and Broadway)
Free and Open to the Public
Reception to Follow
(For information or to request accommodations, please contact

Prof. Giuriati's talk will address the peculiar process of change of one of the most well-known Italian tarantella, that of Montemarano, which has been the object of study for a number of ethnomusicologists and folklorists including Alan Lomax. Among the peculiarities of this tarantella is the fact that it is played by a clarinet, together with accordion and frame drum. The use of clarinet in Montemarano can be traced back to a local musician, ‘Mbrusino, at the end of the 1930s. Through this case-study the talk will discuss the role of individuals in the creative process of music of oral tradition, the relationship between “art” and “folk” music, patterns of change that are peculiar of Italian folk music, and a peculiar twist (or paradox) that makes one of the most known repertories of Italian folk music derive from a tune by Liszt, who, in turn, seems to have taken it from Hungarian folk (or gipsy) music. However, this does not prevent the tarantella di Montemarano to take an entirely new life of its own in the ensuing decades.

Speaker Biography:

Giovanni Giuriati
(Ph.D. University of Maryland) is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Facoltà di Lettere of the Università di Roma “La Sapienza,” and the
Director of the Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies, Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice. Giuriati has been a member of the Scientific committee of the Archivi di etnomusicologia of the Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia, Secretary General (2002-2005) and President of the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (2005-2008). Since December 2017 Giuriati is President of the ADUIM (Associazione Docenti Universitari Italiani di Musica). Giuriati has researched and published extensively on the traditional music of Cambodia and Indonesia, and on the instrumental music and the relationship between music and festivals in Campania, Italy. His latest publications include: Perspectives on a 21st Century Comparative Musicology: Ethnomusicology of Transcultural Musicology?, co-edited with Francesco Giannattasio, Mascarà, mascara me n’a fatto ‘nnamurà. Le tarantelle e i canti di Montemarano (with Luigi D’Agnese), Alcune questioni centrali nel dibattito etnomusicologico contemporaneo: una prospettiva dall’Italia (Il Saggiatore Musicale).

POSTPONED TO FRIDAY 3/23 AT 4PM -- Prof. Liv Sovik (U Federal do Rio de Janeiro) -- "On Feminist Rapper Karol Conka"

Event Start: 
Friday, March 23, 2018 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusicology)
The Center for Ethnomusicology Presents:
"Feminist Rapper Karol Conka In Light Of Tom Zé’s Theory Of Brazilian Popular Music."
Prof. Liv Sovik
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro


701C Dodge Hall
(The Center for Ethnomusicology @116th St. and Broadway)
Free and Open to the Public
Reception to Follow
For disability or other accommodations or more information, write

Abstract: Karol Conka sang to the world with teenage rapper MC Soffia, at the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016. She was already a phenomenon on the Internet in Brazil and had toured Europe twice. If the immediate urge is to understand her as part of the Brazilian instance of the global hip hop scene, she emphasizes her difference. Her “message” of joie-de-vivre and feminist self-affirmation is unlike most Brazilian rap, focused on favelas, “the system” and violence, and she has said she keeps up with the American scene but “spices her work up” with her Brazilianness. On the other hand, tropicalista and avant-garde pop musician Tom Zé has long spoken, in interviews, about Brazilian popular music’s place in the world. He touches on Brazil’s underdevelopment and modernization, cultural history and traditions, poverty, the market, social change, performance and the performer’s relationship to the audience. His discourse is complex, circular and fragmented, but has the advantages of being both rooted in Brazil and in music, rather than being global and focused on markets and circulation. This presentation both analyses Karol Conka’s contemporary Brazilian persona and sensibility and proposes a theoretical construct with which to do it, Tom Zé’s views formulated as a theory. 

Some Musical Links:
Tom Zé - “Complexo de épico”.  1973.
Tom Zé – “Passagem de som”. 1998
Tom Zé – “Tropicalea jacta est”. 2012
Karol Conka – “Boa noite”. 2011
Karol Conka – “Tombei”. 2015
Karol Conka – “Lalá”. 2017

Biography: Liv Sovik uses the Brazilian popular music tradition as an avenue to understand Brazilian imaginaries and subjectivities. Her work has focused on foreign influence and domination, in the context of the postmodern debate and Brazil’s affinity with it; the discursive mechanisms for valuing whiteness in a country that has long seen itself as mestiço; the historical presence of independent women even as feminism was silenced. She is also interested in non-logocentric, disciplined ways of thinking and knowing, two examples being music and capoeira. She edited a major collection of Stuart Hall’s work in Portuguese (Da diaspora, 2003), and is the author of Aqui ninguém é branco [Here no one is white] (2009) and Tropicália Rex (2018). She teaches communication at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and in an MA program on Ethnic and Race Relations at CEFET, a technical college in Rio de Janeiro.

Prof. Liz Przybylski (UC Riverside): Hip Hop Dialogues: Unsettling Collaboration

Event Start: 
Friday, March 2, 2018 - 4:00pm
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusioclogy)
The Center for Ethnomusicology presents a colloquium with:

Liz Przybylski
(Assistant Professor of Music, U. California, Riverside)

Hip Hop Dialogues:
 Unsettling Collaboration

Friday March 2, 2018
701C Dodge Hall (Center for Ethnomusicology)
Free and open to the public!

In January 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba was identified as the most racist city in Canada. Yet, for Canada’s 2017 sesquicentennial, a vocal group from Winnipeg, Camerata Nova, was chosen to showcase Indigenous music and model Indigenous/Settler relationships for national reconciliation. With Cree composer Andrew Balfour as artistic director, the group presented the show Taken. The performances in Winnipeg and Ottawa form the musicians’ contribution to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Like many settler-colonial states, Canada is currently wrestling with the past, present, and future of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens. Government efforts to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children included more than one hundred years of compulsory Indian Residential Schools in which children were removed from their families, languages, and cultural practices. Often using music as a centerpiece of public events, the TRC investigated abuses children suffered when separated from their families and offers a concrete plan for the nation to redress past harms. Camerata Nova participates in the current Canadian dialogue, which offers a still-contested model for other settler-colonial states.

Taken features collaborative new compositions that incorporate the living lineage of Canadian Indigenous music. In these performances, rapper Eekwol (Muskoday First Nation) works with composer Mel Braun and sixteen Camerata Nova musicians who integrate samples from two repertoires: music from Eekwol’s hand drum group and Canadian pop songs that charted between 1970 and 2016. The show delivers messaging which both fits with and diverges from the larger arc of Eekwol’s hip hop career.  This presentation shares research grounded in participant observation with Camerata Nova through its rehearsal process and performances. Invoking Michelle Raheja’s analysis of Indigenous sovereignty that is not limited to a Euro-American legal concept of political sovereignty, I ask how musicians can build future public performances that carry the collaboration process towards more productive forms of unsettling.

Prof. Liz Przybylski is an interdisciplinary scholar of popular music. She specializes in Indigenous hip hop practices in Canada and the United States. A graduate of Bard College (BA) and Northwestern University (MA, PhD), Liz’s work bridges ethnomusicology, musicology, gender studies, and Indigenous Studies. She has presented her research nationally and internationally, including at the Society for Ethnomusicology, Feminist Theory and Music, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and International Council for Traditional Music World Conferences. Recent and forthcoming publications analyze how the sampling of heritage music in Indigenous hip hop contributes to dialogues about cultural change in urban areas. Liz has also published on popular music pedagogy. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research with hip hop artists and music broadcasters in Winnipeg. Her ongoing work develops an innovative model of on- and off-line ethnography for the analysis of contemporary popular music. In addition to her university teaching, Liz has taught adult and pre-college learners at the American Indian Center in Chicago and the Concordia Language Villages program of Concordia College in Bemidji. A radio enthusiast, Liz hosted the world music show “Continental Drift” on WNUR in Chicago and has conducted interviews with musicians for programs including “At The Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research” on CJUM in Winnipeg. Liz currently serves as the Vice President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Southern California and Hawaii Chapter and as the Media Reviews Editor for the journal American Music.

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