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21st Century Fellowship
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Purpose: To further excellence in ethnomusicological research through support to two highly qualified Ph.D. students for dissertation fieldwork.

Eligibility: Applicants must be current SEM members and must achieve ABD or equivalent doctoral candidate status at their institution by August 1 of the year of application. Applicants must conduct a minimum of six months of fulltime dissertation research, some or all of which must take place after the date of the award at the fall SEM Annual Meeting. Onsite fieldwork is preferred, but virtual fieldwork will also be considered.

One of the two fellowships is designated for students who are studying in a graduate program in the United States or Canada and who have received less than $5,000 in funding for their dissertation research. This designated fellowship prioritizes students who meet one or more of the following additional criteria: (1) are from schools that do not fund dissertation research; (2) are conducting research in their home country; (3) are doing multi-sited research; (4) are applying for foreign-area fellowships in highly competitive countries; (5) are from groups underrepresented in SEM’s membership.

Prize: Two awards of $7,500 each

Regularity: Annually

Administration: The 21st Century Fellowship Committee consists of a Chair and four additional members, appointed by the SEM President. The committee evaluates completed applications and selects two awardees. Each year’s fellowships are announced and awarded at the SEM Annual Meeting. One or both of the fellowships may be withheld by decision of the committee.

Application Process:

A completed application consists of the following: (1-4 are submitted through the online application form).

1) Application form, including contact information and information on degree, fieldwork, and other funding.

2) 250-word summary of the objectives of the dissertation research (file upload in online form).

3) Curriculum vitae, maximum of 3 pages (file upload in online form).

4) Research proposal, 4 pages + 1 page bibliography. Include discussion of research topic, hypothesis, questions, methodology, work plan, and the significance of the project to the field of ethnomusicology (file upload in online form).

5) Confidential letter from the chair of the applicant’s dissertation committee, which evaluates applicant’s academic work and research project. The chair should send this letter directly to sem@indiana.edu. If the applicant wishes to be considered for the “designated” fellowship, the chair should address the relevant criteria specified above. After the April 1 application deadline, the chair may send an additional message to sem@indiana.edu with any updates on the applicant’s dissertation research funding.

Application Deadline: April 1

Awardees’ Responsibility: Awardees are required to send to SEM a brief report of the funded research (including how the money was spent) within twelve months of the award date. Awardees should also include acknowledgement of the fellowship in the finished dissertation and send to SEM the title and acknowledgements pages within two months of filing. Material should be sent to sem@indiana.edu.

21st Century Fellowship Fund Leaderhip Donors

SEM thanks the following donors for their generous gifts or pledges of $10,000 or more to the 21st Century Fellowship Fund:

Judith A. Gray
Ellen Koskoff
Portia Maultsby
Terry Miller
Bruno Nettl
Timothy Rice
Kay Kaufman Shelemay
Barbara B. Smith
Ruth M. Stone
Bonnie C. Wade
Bell Yung

To make a donation to the 21st Century Fellowship Fund, please visit the “Donate Now” area of the website or contact Stephen Stuempfle, SEM Executive Director, at semexec@indiana.edu.

21st Century Fellowship Recipients


Tyler Yamin, "Listening to Gibbons in the Anthropocene: The Sonorous Cosmopolitics of Endangered Species Conservation" 


Ian Copeland, "Sonic Humanitarianism: Affect, Altruism, and Musical Aid in Malawi."


Keisuke Yamada, “Ecologies of Instrumentality: The Politics and Practice of Sustainable Shamisen Making.”


Ellen Hebden, “Femininity, Tradition, and the Politics of Mobility in Rural Mozambique.”


Brendan Kibbee, "Musical Massification and The Performance of Civic Life in Dakar's Médina."


Ian Middleton, "Trust in Music: Tambora and Gaita in Strategies to Minimize Violence, and Deal with its Effects, in Northern Colombia."


Francesca Inglese, "Coloured Moves and Klopse Beats: Embodying Contested Subjectivities in Cape Town, South Africa."



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