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Alan Merriam Prize
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To recognize the most distinguished English-language monograph in the field of ethnomusicology, published as the author’s second or a later monograph.

Eligibility: The monograph must have been published in the previous two years (e.g., the 2020 prize will be given to a book published in 2018 or 2019). Second editions of monographs, edited collections, and textbooks are not eligible. No book will be considered more than once.

Prize: $300 cash prize.

Regularity: Annually.

Administration: The Merriam Prize Committee will consist of the SEM Past-President or President-Elect as Chair, two members of the Society appointed by the President, and the previous winner.

Application Process: Nominations, including self-nominations and nominations by presses, are made by sending four hard copies of the book to the committee Chair through the SEM Business Office. The committee may also nominate books to be considered. Applicants may submit only one title during an application cycle.

Application Deadline: April 1.

Send Application To: Chair, Alan Merriam Prize Committee, c/o Business Office, Society for Ethnomusicology, 800 E. 3rd St, Bloomington, IN 47405-3657.

Note: In 2018 the SEM Board changed the Alan Merriam Prize (awarded from 1995 to 2018) to honor authors for a second or later monograph. It instituted the Ruth Stone Prize to honor authors for a first monograph.

Alan Merriam Prize Books Submitted

2019 List

Alan Merriam Prize Recipients, 2019-


Kiri Miller. Playable Bodies: Dance Games and Intimate Media. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

(Honorable Mention) Frank Gunderson. The Legacy of Tanzanian Musicians Muhidin Gurumo and Hassan Bitchuka: Rhumba Kiserebuka!. Landham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2018

Alan Merriam Prize Recipients, 1995-2018

Prize Purpose: To recognize the most distinguished, published English-language monograph in the field of ethnomusicology.


(Co-recipient) Alex Chávez. Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).

(Co-recipient) Louise Meintjes. Dust of the Zulu: Ngoma Aesthetics after Apartheid. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).

(Honorable Mention) David Garcia. Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music's African Origins. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).


(Co-recipient) Chérie Rivers Ndaliko. Necessary Noise: Music, Film, and Charitable Imperialism in the East of Congo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

(Co-recipient) Gavin Steingo. Kwaito’s Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).


Martin J. Daughtry. Listening to War: Sound, Music, Trauma and Survival in Wartime Iraq (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

(Honorable Mention) Noriko Manabe. The Revolution Will Not be Televised: Protest Music after Fukushima (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

(Honorable Mention) Christina Sunardi. Stunning Males and Powerful Females: Gender and Tradition in East Javanese Dance (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2015).


(Co-recipient) Ana María Ochoa Gautier. Aurality: Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014).

(Co-recipient) James Revell Carr. Hawaiian Music in Motion: Mariners, Missionaries, and Minstrels (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014).

(Honorable Mention) Moshe Morad. Fiesta De Diez Pesos: Music and Gay Identity in Special Period Cuba (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2014).


Anna Morcom. Illicit worlds of Indian Dance: Cultures of Exclusion (London: Hurst Publishers, 2013).


Carol Silverman. Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

(Honorable Mention) Travis Jackson. Blowin’ the Blues Away: Performance and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012). 


Sean Williams and Lillis Ó Laoire. Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney, Irish Song Man (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

(Honorable Mention)  Carol Ann Muller and Sathima Bea Benjamin. Musical Echoes: South African Women Thinking in Jazz (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).


Martin Stokes. The Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009).

(Honorable Mention) Anne Rasmussen. Women, The Recited Qur’an and Islamic Music in Indonesia (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010).

(Honorable Mention) Henry Spiller. Erotic Triangles: Sundanese Dance and Masculinity in West Java (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).


(Co-recipient) Benjamin Brinner. Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

(Co-recipient) Steven Friedson. Remains of Ritual: Northern Gods in a Southern Land (Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2009).


Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje. Fiddling in West Africa: Touching the Spirit in Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagamba Cultures (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).


(Co-recipient) Tomie Hahn. Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2007).

(Co-recipient) Timothy Rommen. "Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).


(Co-recipient) Kyra D. Gaunt. The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop. (New York City: New York University Press, 2006).

(Co-recipient) Michael Largey. Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).


(Co-recipient) David G. Borgo. Sync or Swarm: Improvising Music in a Complex Age (New York City: Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2005).

(Co-recipient) Paul Austerlitz. Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2005).

(Honorable Mention) Vincenzo Perna. Timba: The Sound of the Cuban Crisis (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2005).


(Co-recipient) Judith Becker. Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion, and Trancing. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004).

(Co-recipient) Marc Perlman. Unplayed Melodies: Javanese Gamelan and the Genesis of Music Theory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004).

(Honorable Mention) Deborah Wong. Speak it Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (New York: Routledge, 2004).


Gage Averill. Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

(Honorable Mention) A.J. Racy. Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).


Lise A. Waxer. The City of Musical Memory: Salsa, Record Grooves, and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2002). 


Katherine Hagedorn. Divine Utterances: The Performance of Afro-Cuban Santeria (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).


(Co-recipient) Michael Tenzer. Gamelan Gong Kebyar: The Art of Twentieth Century Balinese Music (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000).

(Co-recipient) Thomas Turino.  Nationalists, Cosmopolitans and Popular Music in Zimbabwe (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000).


Veit Erlmann. Music, Modernity, and the Global Imagination: South Africa and the West (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).


Virginia Danielson. The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998).


Judith Vander. Shoshone Ghost Dance Religion: Poetry, Songs, and Great Basin Context (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1997).


Dale Olsen. Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996).


J. Lawrence Witzleben. Silk and Bamboo Music in Shanghai: The Jiangnan Sizhu Instrumental Ensemble Tradition (Kent: Kent State University Press, 1995).


Paul Berliner. Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994).


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