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Jocelyne Guilbault


I am an ethnomusicologist and popular music studies scholar teaching at Berkeley since 1999. From 1984 to 1998 I taught at the University of Ottawa. My educational background includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Université de Montréal in my native Quebec, Canada, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Stressing a multidisciplinary approach, my research and teaching engages critical theoretical and methodological issues in ethnomusicology and popular music studies. I locate these issues in the scholarly intersections of music, anthropology, cultural studies, and history.

All of my intellectual projects since 1980 have been deeply informed by the distinctive history of the West Indies, where colonial legacies of slavery and of racism have loomed large in all arenas of musical discourse and practice. This has compelled me to focus on diasporic formations, on emergent national identities, and on the politics of representation. And it has compelled me to investigate the postcolonial conditions in which West Indian musicians live and the systemic inequalities they have faced. But my research is not just about oppression, or emancipatory politics, or the status quo. By focusing on creative agency in its multiple forms, I have examined a multitude of ways that musicians, their audiences, and music industry workers confront, enact, deploy, and resist power in its many forms and effects. In this way I have consistently engaged with the politics of aesthetics and with power relations in music production and circulation.

These issues inform my earliest fieldwork project on the politics of traditionality and modernity in St. Lucian village music. I developed these issues on a more global scale in a later project on Zouk as a Caribbean “world music.” My last two books draw from a long history of research in Trinidad. In one I explored the ways the calypso music scene became audibly entangled with projects of governing, audience demands, and market incentives. In the most recent publication, an experiment in dialogic co-authorship with a reputed Trinidadian calypso and soca band leader, I engage the audible entanglements of circulation, reputation, and sound. New articles on music and militarization and on theorizing work ethics will appear in 2017 in an edited volume on Caribbean military encounters, and in Popular Music. My current book project is titled The Political Economy of Music and Sound: Case Studies from the Caribbean Tourism Industry, co-edited with Timothy Rommen.

Key Publications

2014 Roy Cape: A Life on the Calypso and Soca Bandstand (with Roy Cape). Durham: Duke University Press.

2014 Afterword, in Sun, Sea, and Sound: Music and Tourism in the Circum-Caribbean, edited by Timothy Rommen and Daniel Neely. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 306-315.

2014 Politics of Ethnomusicological Knowledge, Production, and Circulation. Ethnomusicology 58(2): 321-326.

2011 The Question of Multiculturalism in the Arts in a Postcolonial Nation-State. Music and Politics 5(1) an online journal < >

2011 Beats of Pleasure amidst Everyday Violence: The Cultural Work of Party Music in Trinidad. MUSICultures 38: 7-26.

2010 Politics Through Pleasure: Party Music in Trinidad, in Musical Traditions, Cultures and Contexts: Essays in Honour of Beverly Diamond, edited by Robin Elliott and Gordon E. Smith. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, pp. 279-294.

2007 Governing Sound: The Cultural Politics of Trinidad’s Carnival Musics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2005 “Globalizzazione e localismo.” In Enciclopedia della musica: L’unità della musica, edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, 5: 138-156. Turino: Enaudi.

2005 Audible Entanglements: Nation and Diasporas in Trinidad’s Calypso Music Scene. Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 17:40-63.

2004 On Redefining the Nation through Party Music, in Culture in Action: Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, edited by Milla Riggio. Routledge: New York, pp. 228-238.

2002 The Politics of Calypso in a World of Music Industries. Popular Music Studies, edited by David Hesmondhalgh and Keith Negus. London: Arnold Publishers, pp.191-204.

2001 World Music, in The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock, edited by Simon Frith and Will Straw. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 176-192. Also published in Chinese and Korean.

2000 Border Crossings: New Directions in Music Studies. Edited with John Shepherd and Murray Dineen. Repercussion, Special Issue, volume 7-8.

2000 Racial Projects and Music Practices in Trinidad, West Indies, in Music and the Racial Imagination, edited by Ronald Radano and Philip V. Bohlman (with a Foreword by Houston A. Baker, Jr.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 435-458.

1997 Interpreting World Music: A Challenge in Theory and Practice. Popular Music 16(1): 31-44.

1997 The Politics of Labeling Popular Musics in English Caribbean. Trans III (electronically-produced musicological journal published in Spain) (

1997 Créolité and Francophonie in Music: Socio-Musical Repositionings Where It Matters. (with Line Grenier). Cultural Studies 11(2): 207-234.

1994 Interpretation Out of Contradiction: A World Music in the West Indies. Canadian University Music Review 14: 1-17.

1994 Créolité and the New Cultural Politics of Difference in Popular Music of the French West Indies. Black Music Research Journal 14(2): 161-179.

1993 Zouk: World Music in the West Indies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

1993 On Redefining the Local Through World Music. The World of Music (35)2: 33-47. Reprinted 2005 in Ethnomusicology: A Contemporary Reader, edited by Jennifer C. Post. New York: Routledge, pp.137-146.

1993 Traditional Music in St. Lucia. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. CD and notes.

1991 Ethnomusicology and the Study of Music in the Caribbean. Studies in Third World Societies 45: 117-140.

1990 ‘Authority’ Revisited: the ‘Other’ in Anthropology and Popular Music Studies (with Line Grenier). Ethnomusicology 34(3): 383-398. Reprinted 1994 in Canadian Music: Issues of Hegemony and Identity edited by Beverly Diamond and Robert Witmer. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, pp. 203-221.

1987 Fitness and Flexibility: Funeral Wakes in St. Lucia, West Indies. Ethnomusicology 31(2): 273-299.

1987 The La Rose and La Marguerite Organizations in St. Lucia: Oral and Literate Strategies in Performance. Yearbook for Traditional Music 19: 97-115.

1985 St. Lucian Kwadril Evening. Latin American Music Review 6(1): 31-57.

Courses taught:

Undergraduate: Studies of Musics of the World; Musics of the Caribbean; Musics, Politics, and Pleasure

Graduate: Introduction to Music Scholarship: Ethnomusicology; Research Design for Ethnomusicologists; Theory and Methodology in Popular Music Studies; Social and Cultural Theory in Music Studies; Interpretive Theories in Music