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Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, Northwestern University. Born in Azerbaijan’s capital city Baki, educated as a pianist and musicologist in the former Soviet Union, I performed, taught, and chaired a music department before arriving in the US where I completed a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Michigan, with a dissertation on Azerbaijani classical improvised mugham. I have conducted research in area studies including Middle-Eastern, Central Asian, and Russian music cultures, inherently woven with topics of gender, politics, diaspora, and empire. I have explored the dichotomy of oral and written art and popular musics as illuminating cultural and political complexities; I also enjoy homological cross-domain analysis of temporal and spatial arts, e.g., carpet and mugham.

I am the author of Song from the Land of Fire: Continuity and Change in Azerbaijani Mugham (2003) and Bewitching Russian Opera: The Tsarina from State to Stage (2011), and co-editor of Manifold Identities (2004) and Music of the Sirens (2006). I have published articles in Ethnomusicology, Asian Studies, and Ethnomusicology Forum, and chapters in volumes including Music in Conflict: Ethnomusicological Perspectives (2010) and Azərbaycan Xalçasi (2007). Fortunate to have been a senior fellow of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and to spend a month of writing Bewitching as a recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, I have benefited as a scholar from several other research and travel grants. I have recently received Northwestern University’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2009). I’m currently working on the music of diasporic weddings, which explains my continuing urge to attend nuptials. I am also pursuing a long-standing project involving the musical culture of Odessa In and Beyond the Pale. I enjoy dancing and teach that music is both bodied and embodied experience. I often attend and take students to milongas.

I have been a member of SEM for many years. I have served on the Council and am a former chair of the European SIG.


Zoe Sherinian is Associate Professor and Chair of Ethnomusicology at the University of Oklahoma, where she has taught since 2001. Her research focus has been the Indigenization of Christian music in India, gender studies, and world percussion. In Tamil Folk Music As Dalit Liberation Theology (Indiana University Press, 2013), Sherinian argues that Dalits (former untouchables) draw on the flexibility of Tamil folk music to create an indigenized Christian liberation theology that responds in liturgical performance to their need for transformative social change. She has published articles in Ethnomusicology, Worlds of Music, Women and Music, and the on-line journal Religion Compass and has forthcoming articles in the Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianity, the Oxford Handbook on Queer Music (for which she is an associate editor), and the Applied Ethnomusicology Handbook (Oxford University Press). She is also working on a co-edited reader/teaching anthology with Sarah Morelli titled, Music and Dance as Everyday Life in South Asia.

In 2008-09 she received a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to conduct ethnographic fieldwork and make a film on the changing status of the parai frame drum of the Dalits (former untouchables) of Tamil Nadu, India, resulting in a documentary film entitled This Is A Music: Reclaiming An Untouchable Drum. She has since received an Asian Arts Council grant and been nominated by OU to receive an NEH Summer Stipend to make her next documentary film and participatory video on women parai drummers in Summer 2013. She also plans to use participatory video techniques in community arts projects in the Central Valley of California with Punjabi, Hmong, and Latino populations.

Sherinian plays the parai, South Indian mrdangam, jazz drumset and has experience with Balinese gamelan, West African and Afro-Caribbean percussion. She has conducted solkattu workshops with students of all ages throughout the U.S. Her other theoretical interests include phenomenology, transnationalism, alternative cosmopolitanism, and intersectionality. In her service to the Society, Sherinian has been the co-chair of the Section on the Status of Women, the Gender and Sexualities Taskforce, and was a founding member of the South Asian Performing Arts Section. She has served on the SEM Council three times, once as a graduate student. She was also involved in starting the Southern Plains Chapter of SEM and creating the Vida Chenoweth Student Prize. Sherinian holds degrees from Oberlin College and Wesleyan University and has held positions at Oberlin and Franklin and Marshall Colleges.

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