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After the Revolution: A Musical Portrait of the Ethiopian Diaspora

February 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Theatre 2

After the Revolution: A Musical Portrait of the Ethiopian Diaspora

Presenter: Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay

While revolutions transform processes of musical production, transmission and performance, conditions of political instability and violence often force musicians to seek refuge abroad. This paper offers a critical perspective of the manner in which the Ethiopian revolution (1974 – 1991) catalysed a mass migration that included many musicians of different generations, ethnicities, and repertories. This paper provides a portrait of the Ethiopian American diaspora, the largest outside Ethiopia, through an exploration of its musical life.

Kay Kaufman Shelemay is the G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Shelemay’s most recent books include Pain and its Transformations: The Interface of Biology and Culture (2007, co-edited with Sarah Coakley); Creating the Ethiopian Diaspora (2011, co-edited with Steven Kaplan), and Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World (3rd ed., 2015). Currently completing a book on musicians from the African Horn diaspora, Shelemay has published numerous other monographs, articles, editions, and recordings. A national Phi Beta Kappa/Frank M. Updike Memorial Scholar for 2010-2011, Shelemay is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy for Jewish Research, the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. A past-president of the Society for Ethnomusicology, she has been awarded many fellowships and prizes and held the Chair of Modern Culture at the John W. Kluge Center of the U.S. Library of Congress during 2007-2008. At Harvard University, Shelemay has been named a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow and was awarded the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, and the Everett Mendelsohn Graduate Mentoring Prize.


February 24, 2020
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm