Our history

The history of ethnomusicology at Indiana University goes back to 1948 when George Herzog joined the faculty in the Department of Anthropology. There, he introduced courses in comparative musicology, folk music, and poetry, promoting a synthetic approach to musical analysis and ethnographic study while setting the tone for interdisciplinary research in music at Indiana.

Since that time, distinguished scholars have brought new perspectives and expertise to this program, including George List (appointed in 1954), Alan Merriam (appointed in 1962), Charles Boiles, Walter Kaufman, Anthony Seeger, Ruth Stone, and Portia Maultsby. Ethnomusicology was formally recognized as an interdepartmental program in the Folklore Department in 1980, in recognition of its excellence and comprehensive nature.

In January 2000, the Ethnomusicology Institute partnered with the Folklore Institute as the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. Given the history of productive interaction between these two fields at Indiana University, this was a natural development. Several institutional linkages, in curriculum and other areas, insure that the two institutes remain vitally connected. While major decisions affecting hiring, tenure and promotion, and resource allocation are handled at the departmental level, the two institutes are semi-autonomous within their immediate spheres of activity.

Who we are today

Our faculty continues to represent Indiana University’s longstanding tradition of an integrated approach to the field, focusing on the ethnographic, archival, and performative study of sound and music.

Having expanded in many ways during the past half-century, we are now home to eight full-time professors, approximately thirty graduate students, thirty undergraduate majors and minors, and a dedicated support staff. Our faculty, visiting scholars, and alumni number among the most influential ethnomusicologists in the history of the field.

Meet our faculty