A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Professor Uses Art as a Lens on Society

October 26, 2012

UC Merced ethnomusicology Professor David Kaminisky was drawn to UC Merced by the opportunity to help develop a new program that can give students the tools to do critical analyses of all kinds of artistic products and processes. Whether it’s music, painting, film or dance, whether it’s from Bakersfield or Mumbai, he wants his students to be able to see any artistic endeavor as a lens on the society that produced it.

What is your research about?

My work is on Swedish folk music and dance. I just published an article about debates over the use of Swedish folk music in right-wing anti-immigrant propaganda, and right now I’m putting together a conference presentation about Swedish folk musicians and how they communicate movement patterns to dancers. I’m also writing an article about non-Jewish klezmer music in Sweden, which I’m hoping to publish sometime in the spring.

What drew you to this kind of research?

I had a very inspirational teacher in college, an ethnomusicologist and master drummer from Ghana named Sowah Mensah. He convinced me to become an ethnomusicologist.

You also play music, correct? What instruments and styles?

I’m a flutist primarily, and I mostly play Swedish folk music. I also play some other instruments, many of which you’ll see if you take one of my introductory classes.

What's something about you that people might not know?

I have no secrets.

Any music recommendations?

I recommend that you try listening to some kind of music you’ve been told not to like, but that you haven’t actually tried listening to.