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BaAka Forest People w/Michelle Kisliuk


Michelle Kisliuk, Associate Professor, received the doctorate in Performance Studies from New York University in 1991. Integrating theory and practice, she specializes in a performance approach to ethnographic writing and research, and in an ethnographic and critical approach to performing. Since 1986 she has researched the music, dance, daily life, socioesthetics, and cultural politics of forest people (BaAka) in the Central African Republic (, and has also written about urban music/dance and modernity in Bangui (the capital city). In addition, her work extends to the socioesthetics of jam sessions at bluegrass festivals in the United States. Her published essays have appeared in collections including Shadows in the Field (Oxford University Press), Teaching Performance Studies (University of Southern Illinois Press), Performing Ethnomusicology (University of California Press) and Music and Gender (University of Illinois Press). Her book, Seize the Dance! BaAka Musical Life and the Ethnography of Performance (Oxford University Press) won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award. She has been a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and a Laura Boulton Senior Fellow in Ethnomusicology. Her current research/writing project is a collection of theoretical essays and case studies that address the ongoing project of performance ethnography, focusing in particular on her recent research with the House of Israel community in Western Ghana. Along with her academic teaching in Music in Everyday Life and Field Research and Ethnography of Performance, she directs the UVA African Music and Dance Ensemble.

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