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Ryan Gourley

I am a Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology specializing in Russian and Soviet popular music. My dissertation examines the politics of memory and musical circulation in the Pacific White Russian diaspora from 1917 to the present. My project traces the various routes of White Russian migration throughout the Pacific Region, stretching from Manchuria to California. Centered on the circulation of musical materials between Russian diasporic communities, I analyze the promotion of traditions in diaspora that are distinct from prevailing Soviet models. In dialogue with critical scholarship from anthropology, new media, and diaspora studies, my dissertation sheds new light on the politics of cultural authenticity and diasporic memory.

Raised in sunny San Antonio, Texas, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Music at Brown University in 2017, with equivalent minors in computer engineering and computer science. My undergraduate capstone project analyzed the development of jazz scenes across the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, focusing on the cities of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tallinn, Warsaw, Baku, and Novosibirsk. My research on Soviet jazz continued into my graduate studies at UC Berkeley and became the topic of my master’s exam. Drawing on my background in programming, I created several computer-generated models of Soviet jazz scenes, which I have presented at various conferences. I remain committed to furthering connections between the digital humanities and ethnomusicology.

Since the Fall of 2018, I have volunteered as a music specialist at the archive of the Museum of Russian Culture, San Francisco. My current project involves cataloguing, digitizing, remastering, and analyzing their rare phonographic record collection. In 2021, I successfully administered a grant from the National Recording Preservation Foundation to digitize 200 recordings for the first time and make them available for free online. My research in the museum’s archive has been supported by various grants from the Association for Slavic Eastern European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), the Institute for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES) at UC Berkeley, the Institute for International Studies (IIS) at UC Berkeley, the Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) at UC Berkeley, and the Music Department at UC Berkeley.

Research Interests

The politics of memory, phonography and media formats, mobility studies, Soviet / Post-Soviet aesthetics, Diaspora Studies, digital humanities, and Soviet jazz.


“The Soviet Jazz Diaspora in America” in The Routledge Companion to Diasporic Jazz Studies, edited by Anthony Bruce Johnson, Ádám Havas, and David Horn. Forthcoming.

Selected Conference Presentations

“Social Betweenness in the Soviet Jazz Network.” To be delivered at the Sixth Sibelius Academy Symposium on Music History: “Agents and Actors – Networks in Music History” at the University of Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland. June 1-3, 2022.

“The Sounds of Soviet Souvenirs in America: 78s at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.” To be delivered at the 53rd Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, USA. November 18-21, 2021.

“Phonographic Homeland: Russian Records Across the Pacific Region.” To be delivered at the First Conference of the International Musicological Society’s Global History of Music Study Group: “Music in the Pacific World: Change and Exchange Through Sound and Memory” at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. October 15-17, 2021.

“White Melody, Red Lyrics: A Musical Palimpsest in Soviet Cinema” Delivered at “Music and the Moving Image Conference XVII” at New York University in New York, USA. May 27-30, 2021.

“Soviet Jazz on American Vinyl: The Politics of Record Circulation.” Delivered at the joint American Musicological Society (AMS) and Society for Music Theory (SMT) Conference on the joint Cold War and Musicology Study Group and Post-1945 Music Analysis Interest Group panel “Mediating the Cold War.” November 5-8, 2020.

“Echoes of the Tsar: Musical Narratives of the White Russian Diaspora in San Francisco.” To be delivered at “Symposium: Music and Politics in the 1930s” at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. December 7-8, 2019.



History of Western Art Music (Head Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2022)

Music in American Cultures (Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2021)

Music in American Cultures (Graduate Student Instructor, Summer 2021)

Studies of Musics of the World (Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2021)

Music in American Cultures (Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2020)

Music in American Cultures (Course Instructor, Summer 2020)

History of Western Art Music (Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2020)

Music in American Cultures (Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2019)


Introduction to Tonal Harmony (Teaching Assistant, Fall 2016)

Seminar in Music Composition (Teaching Assistant, Spring 2016)

Music Religion and Politics (Course Assistant, Spring 2016)

The Digital World (Head Teaching Assistant, Fall 2015)

The Digital World (Teaching Assistant, Fall 2014)