Skip to main content

Melissa J. Scott

My research focuses on musical performance at the intersection of migration, politics, and religion. My book project, titled The Aurality of Displacement, examines listening and musical practices in the wake of over a century of forced migration to Jordan. This research received the 2022 Charles Seeger Prize, the 2021 RMSS Student Paper Prize, and the 2019 Marnie Dilling Prize. My fieldwork was supported by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA, an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, and the Sultan Fund from UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. During the 2017-18 academic year, I was a CASA fellow at the American University in Cairo, and I have also studied Arabic in Oman (CLS), Jordan (FLAS), and California.

My experience with performance and performance ensembles strongly informs my approach to both research and pedagogy. I am an oudist and perform with Disoriental at UC Berkeley, Awtar Amman in Jordan, and Nedjma in eastern France. I received my BA in Music from the University of Chicago, where I studied and performed in a variety of musical traditions, and received my PhD in Ethnomusicology from UC Berkeley in 2023.


Music in Southwest Asia and North Africa; anthropology of humanitarianism; critical refugee studies; secularism and secularity; acoustemology; theories of place and soundscape; displacement; sound and violence; late Ottoman studies