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Melissa J. Scott

My work examines the musical aesthetics emerging from, sustaining, and shaping humanitarian sentiments and practices in Jordan. I will pursue PhD dissertation fieldwork in Amman, Jordan from 2019-2020, supported by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA and an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. More broadly, I study and teach topics on music in the Middle East, and my undergraduate honors thesis at the University of Chicago focused on the history of jazz in Turkey. During the 2017-18 academic year, I was a CASA fellow at the American University in Cairo, where I studied Arabic literature and Egyptian dialect while pursuing an internship at a local music center. I have also studied Arabic in Oman (CLS), Jordan (FLAS), and California. Music performance is also crucial to my studies and I have studied oud with musicians in the United States, Jordan, and Egypt. I co-founded and direct Disoriental at UC Berkeley, and regularly perform with the Aswat Ensemble in Oakland.

I am originally from the East Bay and grew up 20 minutes from Berkeley — a rarity among Berkeley graduate students. Learn more about my work at


Levantine and Gulf music, anthropology of humanitarianism, critical refugee studies, secularism and secularity, theories of place and place-making, sound and violence, late Ottoman studies