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Helen Roberts Prize
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Biographical Note on Helen Roberts


Prize Purpose: To recognize the most significant article in ethnomusicology written by members of the Society for Ethnomusicology after the first 10 years of their scholarly career. The article must have been published during the previous year in Ethnomusicology, another journal, or an edited collection.

Prize Amount:

Regularity: Annually.

Administration: The Helen Roberts Prize Committee consists of a Chair and three other members appointed by the SEM President. The committee will make a good faith effort to locate worthy articles but it also relies on self-nominations, as well as on nominations from individual members and from sections, special interest groups, and other groups within SEM. When needed, the committee Chair will recruit language specialists to assist with the evaluation of non-English submissions. The prize may be withheld by decision of the committee.

Application Process: Applicants may submit only one article during an application cycle through our online application form. Applicants should submit based on their own determination of the “the first 10 years of their scholarly career.”

Application Deadline: The deadline for nominations or submissions is April 1.

Submit Application at: Online application form.

Note: In 2018 the SEM Board changed the Jaap Kunst Prize (awarded from 1965 to 2018) to an award to honor members of the Society for Ethnomusicology during the first 10 years of their scholarly career. It instituted the Helen Roberts Prize to honor members after the first 10 years of their scholarly career.


Helen Roberts Prize Recipients, 2019-


Laudan Nooshin. “Our Angel of Salvation”: Toward an Understanding of Iranian Cyberspace as an Alternative Sphere of Musical Sociality.” Ethnomusicology Vol. 62, No. 3 (Fall 2018), pp. 341-374.


Jaap Kunst Prize Recipients, 1965-2018

Prize Purpose: To recognize the most significant article in ethnomusicology written by a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology and published within the previous year (whether in the journal Ethnomusicology or in another journal or edited collection).


Andrew Eisenberg. "The Swahili Art of Indian Taarab: A Poetics of Vocality and Ethnicity on the Kenyan Coast." Comparitive Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 37, no. 2 (2017): 336-354.

(Honorable Mention) Anna C. Schultz. "Translated Fronts: Songs of Socialist Cosmopolitanism in Cold War India." History and Anthropology 28, no. 1 (2017): 1-22.


Meredith Schweig. “‘Young Soldiers, One Day We Will Change Taiwan’: Masculinity Politics in the Taiwan Rap Scene.” Ethnomusicology 60, no. 3 (2016): 383-410.

(Honorable Mention) Erin Bauer. “Beyond the Border: Authenticity in the Adoption of Texas-Mexican Conjunto Music by International Artists.” Latin American Music Review 37, no. 1 (2016): 34-64.


Michael Iyanaga. “Why Saints Love Samba: A Historical Perspective on Black Agency and the Rearticulation of Catholicism in Bahia, Brazil.” Black Music Research Journal 35, no. 1 (2015): 119-47.

(Honorable Mention) Gavin Steingo. “Sound and Circulation: Immobility and Obduracy in South African Electronic Music.” Ethnomusicology Forum 24, no. 1 (2015): 102-23.


Francesca R. Sborgi Lawson. “Is Music an Adaptation or a Technology? Ethnomusicological Perspectives from the Analysis of Chinese Shuochang.” Ethnomusicology Forum 23, no. 1 (2014): 3-26.


David A. McDonald. "Imaginaries of Exile and Emergence in Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Hip Hop.” The Drama Review 57, no. 3 (2013): 69-97.

Maisie Sum. "Music for the Unseen: Interaction between Two Realms during a Gnawa Lila." African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music 9, no. 3 (2013): 151-82.


Philip Bohlman. "Analyzing Aporia." Twentieth-Century Music 8, no. 2 (2011): 133-51.

(Honorable Mention) Gabriel Solis. "Artisanship, Innovation and Indigenous Modernity in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea: Ataizo Mutahe’s Vessel Flutes." MUSICultures 39, no. 1 (2012): 83-110.


Ellen Gray.  "Fado’s City.” Anthropology and Humanism 36, no. 2 (2011): 141-63.

(Honorable Mention) David Novak. "The Sublime Frequencies of New Old Media.” Public Culture 23, no. 3 (2011): 603-34.


K.C Szego. "The Sound of Rocks Aquiver? Composing Racial Ambivalence in Territorial Hawai‘i." The Journal of American Folklore 122, no. 487 (2010): 31-62.


Kay Kaufman Shelemay. "The Power of Silent Voices: Women in the Syrian Jewish Musical Tradition." Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia Laudan Nooshin, Ed., 2009.  

Kiri Miller. (Honorable Mention). "Schizophonic Performance: Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Virtual Virtuosity.” Journal of the Society for American Music 3, no. 4 (2009): 395-429.


Frederick Moehn. "Music, mixing and modernity in Rio de Janeiro." Ethnomusicology Forum 17, no. 2 (2008): 165-202.


Timothy D. Taylor. "The Commodification of Music at the Dawn of the Era of 'Mechanical Music'." Ethnomusicology 51, no. 2 (2007): 281-305.


(Co-recipient) Fernando Benadon. "Slicing the Beat: Jazz Eighth-Notes as Expressive Microrhythm." Ethnomusicology 50, no. 1 (2006): 73-98.

(Co-recipient) Christiane Gerischer. "O Suingue Baiano: Rhythmic Feeling and Microrhythmic Phenomena in Brazilian Percussion." Ethnomusicology 50, no. 1 (2006): 99-119.


T.M. Scruggs. "(Re)Indigenization?: Post-Vatican II Catholic Ritual and 'Folk Masses' in Nicaragua." The World of Music 47, no. 1 (2005): 91-124.


(Co-recipient) Louise Meintjes. "Shoot the Sergeant, Shatter the Mountain: The Production of Masculinity in Zulu Ngoma Song and dance in post-Apartheid South Africa." Ethnomusicology Forum 13, no. 2 (2004): 173-201.   

(Co-recipient) Martin Stokes. "Music and the Global Order." Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004): 47-72.


Jane Sugarman. "Those Other Women: Dance and Femininity among Prespa Albanians," in Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean, Tullia Magrini (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 87-118.


Beverley Diamond. "Native American Contemporary Music: The Women." The World of Music Volume 44, no. 1 (2002): 11-39.


Anne K. Rasmussen. "The Qur'an in Indonesian Daily Life: The Public Project of Musical Oratory." Ethnomusicology 45, no. 1 (2001): 30-57.


Yoshitaka Terada. "T. N. Rajarattinam Pillai and Caste Rivalry in South Indian Classical Music." Ethnomusicology 44, no. 3 (2000): 460-90.


Veronica Doubleday. "The Frame Drum in the Middle East: Women, Musical Instruments, and Power." Ethnomusicology 43, no. 1 (1999): 101-34.


Mu Yang. "Erotic Musical Activity in Multiethnic China." Ethnomusicology 42, no. 2 (1998): 199-264.


Izaly Zemtsovsky. "An Attempt at a Synthetic Paradigm." Ethnomusicology 41, no. 2 (1997): 185-205.


Jeffrey Summit. "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy?: Identity and Melody at an American Simh at Torah Celebration." Ethnomusicology 37, no. 1 (1993): 41-62.


René Lysloff. "Non-Puppets and Non-Gamelan: Wayan Parody in Banyumas." Ethnomusicology 34, no. 1 (1988): 19-35.


Sooi-beng Tan. "From Popular to 'Traditional' Theater: The Dynamics of Change in Bangsawan of Malaysia." Ethnomusicology 33, no. 2 (1989): 229-74.


James Robbins. "Practical and Abstract Taxonomy in Cuban Music." Ethnomusicology 33, no. 3 (1989): 379-90.


J.Lawrence Witzleben. "Jiangnan Sizhu Music Clubs in Shanghai: Context, Concept and Identity." Ethnomusicology 31, no. 2 (1987): 240-60.


Orin T. Hatton. "In the Tradition: Grass Dance Musical Style and Female Powow Singers." Ethnomusicology 30, no. 2 (1986): 197-219.


Marina Roseman. "The Social Structuring of Sound: The Temiar of Peninsular Malaysia." Ethnomusicology 27, no. 3 (1984): 411-45.


Usopay Cadar. "The Role of Kulintang Music in Maranao Society." Ethnomusicology 17, no. 2 (1973): 234-49.


Donald N. Brown. "The Distribution of Sound Instruments in the Prehistoric United States." Ethnomusicology 11, no. 1 (1967): 71-90.

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