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CU Ethno Alum Prof. Adriana Helbig Publishes "Hip Hop Ukraine"

Prof. Adriana Helbig

Prof. Adriana Helbig

The Center for Ethnomusicology congratulates Adriana N. HelbigAssociate Professor of Music at The University of Pittsburgh, and a 2005 alumna of the Columbia Ethnomusicology PhD program, on the publication of her book Hip Hop Ukraine: Music, Race, and African Migration (2014, Indiana University Press). 

Hip Hop Ukraine
Book Description:
 In Hip Hop Ukraine, Prof. Helbig enters a world of urban music and dance competitions, hip hop parties, and recording studio culture to explore unique sites of interracial encounters among African students, African immigrants, and local populations in eastern Ukraine. Adriana N. Helbig combines ethnographic research with music, media, and policy analysis to examine how localized forms of hip hop create social and political spaces where an interracial youth culture can speak to issues of human rights and racial equality. She maps the complex trajectories of musical influence—African, Soviet, American—to show how hip hop has become a site of social protest in post-socialist society and a vehicle for social change."

Biography: Prof. Adriana Helbig is Associate Professor of Music and an affiliated faculty member in Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, Global Studies, and the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She teaches courses on global hip-hop, world music, music, gender, and sexuality, music and technology, and cultural policy. She is also founder and director of the Carpathian Music Ensemble, a student performance group that specializes in the music of Eastern Europe, including Jewish klezmer and Gypsy music. Her research has been funded through grants and research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Councils for International Education, IREX, and Fulbright. She has held a research fellowship at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and was an inaugural research fellow at the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Her articles on Romani (Gypsy) music, postsocialist cultural policy, music and piracy, music, race, and migration, and global hip-hop have appeared in edited collections and journals such as The Yearbook for Traditional Music, Current Musicology, and Popular Music. She is the coauthor, with Oksana Buranbaeva and Vanja Mladineo, of The Culture and Customs of Ukraine (Greenwood Press, 2009). 

Prof. Helbig completed her Columbia PhD in Ethnomusicology in 2005, with a dissertation entitled "Play for Me, Old Gypsy”: Music as Political Resource in the Romani Rights Movement in Ukraine, advised by Prof. Ana Maria Ochoa.

Prof. Helbig's Personal Website

Prof. Helbig's Faculty Page at the University of Pittsburgh.

Order Hip Hop Ukraine on

Other ordering options available through The University of Indiana Press.

Congratulations to Dr. Nili Belkind!

Dr. Nili BelkindThe Center for Ethnomusicology warmly congratulates Dr. Nili Belkind, who defended her dissertation on May 8, 2014.  Dr. Belkind's dissertation is entitled Music in conflict: Palestine, Israel, and the politics of aesthetic production.  It was sponsored (advised) by Prof. Christopher Washburne. 

Dr. Belkind's dissertation is an ethnographic study of the fraught and complicated cultural politics of music making in Israel-Palestine in the context of the post-Oslo era, a time of highly polarized sentiments and general retreat from the expressive modes of relationality that accompanied the 1990s peace process. In it, she examines the politics of sound and the ways in which music making and attached discourses reflect and constitute identities, and also, contextualize political action. Ethical and aesthetic positions that shape contemporary artistic production in Israel-Palestine are informed by profound imbalances of power between the State (Israel), the stateless (Palestinians of the oPt), the complex positioning of Israel’s Palestinian minority, and contingent exposure to ongoing political violence.

David Novak Publishes "Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation"

The Center congratulates Columbia Ethnomusicology PhD program alumnus David Novak.  Prof. Novak (UCSB) has just published Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation (Duke University Press, 2013).

Visit the Japanoise website

Noise, an underground music made through an amalgam of feedback, distortion, and electronic effects, first emerged as a genre in the 1980s, circulating on cassette tapes traded between fans in Japan, Europe, and North America. With its cultivated obscurity, ear-shattering sound, and over-the-top performances, Noise has captured the imagination of a small but passionate transnational audience.

For its scattered listeners, Noise always seems to be new and to come from somewhere else: in North America, it was called "Japanoise." But does Noise really belong to Japan? Is it even music at all? And why has Noise become such a compelling metaphor for the complexities of globalization and participatory media at the turn of the millennium?

In Japanoise, David Novak draws on more than a decade of research in Japan and the United States to trace the "cultural feedback" that generates and sustains Noise. He provides a rich ethnographic account of live performances, the circulation of recordings, and the lives and creative practices of musicians and listeners. He explores the technologies of Noise and the productive distortions of its networks. Capturing the textures of feedback—its sonic and cultural layers and vibrations—Novak describes musical circulation through sound and listening, recording and performance, international exchange, and the social interpretations of media. read more »

David Novak is Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned the PhD in Ethnomusicology in 2006, after which he served as a postdoctoral fellow in Columbia's Society of Fellows.

Accepting Applications for 2014 PhD Program Admission

Important Announcement to Prospective PhD Program Applicants (August, 2013):

We are pleased to announce that we will be accepting applications to the PhD program in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University this fall (2013, usually with a Dec. 15 deadline) for admission in the 2014-15 academic year.

We are unlikely to be accepting applications in 2014 for admission in 2015-16. Please factor that into your personal planning.

Please review these links before you contact us!

About the Columbia Ethnomusicology PhD Program

PhD Program Frequently Asked Questions

Music Department General Guidance for PhD/DMA Applicants

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Kevin Holt Wins Ford Predoctoral Fellowship!

Congratulations to Columbia ethnomusicology PhD student Kevin Holt, who has been awarded a 2013 Predoctoral Fellowship from the  Ford Foundation.

This fellowship, which provides three years of full support for doctoral research, is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Research Council of the National Academies.  Mr. Holt's selection for this prestigious award reflects Ford Foundation's panelists’ "judgment of scholarly competence as well as the promise of future achievement as a scholar, researcher, and teacher."  read more »

Tyler Bickford Appointed Assistant Professor of English at The University of Pittsburgh

The Center for Ethnomusicology congratulates ethnomusicology graduate program alumnus Tyler Bickford (PhD, 2011, With Distinction), who has been appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of English (in Children's Literature and Childhood Studies) at the University of Pittsburgh. 
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Advice to Prospective PhD Program Applicants for 2012

The Columbia Ethnomusicology PhD program will be accepting applications for 2013 admission this fall. If you are considering applying to our PhD program in Ethnomusicology this fall, here are some important links and points of advice.  read more »

Ethnomusicology PhD Candidate Nili Belkind Wins Whiting Fellowship!

The Department of Music congratulates Ethnomusicology PhD candidate Nili Belkind, who has been awarded a prestigious Whiting Fellowship by Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  The fellowship is provided by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation to enable the completion of innovative and excellent doctoral dissertations. 

Ms. Belkind's dissertation research is an inquiry into the relationship between musical culture and political life in Israel/Palestine, where for the past century, violent conflict has been both shaping and claiming the lives of Palestinians and Jews. She focuses on the complex ways in which musical culture acts as a sphere in which power and hegemony are asserted, negotiated and resisted between and within different groups, in relation to the political situation. She analyzes the politics of sound as a sphere that is both reflective of the situation and constitutive of identity formations, particularly in relationship to conceptualizations of citizenship, nationality, ethnicity, and ‘home.’

Themes highlighted in her dissertation include: the role of cultural policy in the production of social imaginaries in Palestine and Israel through musical activity; the relationship between identity, music making, spatiality, and temporality in Palestine, where movement is highly constricted by the occupation; the musical activity that surrounded the summer 2011 social protest movement in Israel, during which attempts were made to disrupt the hegemony of class and ethno-national hierarchies, and the musical production of individual Palestinian artists who are citizens of Israel and who, due to their minoritized status and the political situation, must negotiate between multiple and contradictory spheres of belonging.

Congratulations Nili!

Important Announcement for Prospective Graduate Applicants in Ethnomusicology

Dodge Hall
The graduate program in Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at Columbia University will admit its next incoming cohort for the 2013-2014 academic year, with applications reviewed beginning in December 2012. The program in Ethnomusicology is not admitting a cohort for  2012-2013 and is therefore not accepting applications in the current (2011) cycle.

For questions regarding the 2012 admissions cycle, contact Professor Lila Ellen Gray (

The Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University

About the PhD Program in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University

Attention Prospective Graduate Program Applicants: -- Please read our "Frequently Asked Questions" page for a detailed description of the structure and mission of our graduate program, including our application process and our fellowship offers. Please do not call or email before reading the FAQs.

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