Steven Feld

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Steven Feld
Born August 20, 1949
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality United States
Fields Anthropology, Linguistics, Ethnomusicology, Poetics
Institutions University of New Mexico, University of Texas, Austin, University of California, Santa Cruz, New York University, University of Pennsylvania
Thesis  (1979)
Doctoral advisor Alan P. Merriam
Known for Study of poetics, emotion, song, and dialogical theories developed from work in Bosavi, Papua New Guinea
Notable awards Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994), Charles Seeger lecturer, Society for Ethnomusicology (2009)

Steven Feld (born August 20, 1949) is an American ethnomusicologist, anthropologist, and linguist, who worked for many years with the Kaluli (Bosavi) people of Papua New Guinea. He earned a MacArthur Fellowship in 1991.

Early life[edit]

Feld was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 20, 1949. He graduated with a BA cum laude at Hofstra University in anthropology in 1971. He first went to the Bosavi territory in 1976, accompanied by anthropologist Edward L. Schieffelin, whose recordings of the Bosavi inspired him to pursue this work.[1] His work there fulfilled his dissertation (later published as Sound and Sentiment) for his PhD from Indiana University in 1979 (in anthropology/linguistics/ethnomusicology).


Feld later returned several times in the 1980s and 1990s to Papua New Guinea to research Bosavi song, rainforest ecology, and cultural poetics. He has also made briefer research visits to various locations in Europe.

He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Texas at Austin, and University of Pennsylvania. He is currently (since 2003) a professor of anthropology and music at the University of New Mexico. Since 2001, he has also held a visiting appointment at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen, Norway, as a professor of world music.

In 2002, he founded the VoxLox label, "documentary sound art advocates for human rights and acoustic ecology." His most recent book Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra (2012) is based on five years of research and collaboration in Accra, Ghana.

He is also a musician, and he has been active in the New Mexican music scene since the 1970s.[2]

Some of Feld's recordings are sampled on the track, "Kaluli Groove" on the 2007 album Global Drum Project by Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo.


  • Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: Five Musical Years in Ghana. Duke University Press, 2012
  • Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli expression. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982, 2nd ed. 1990; based on dissertation
  • (with Charles Keil) Music Grooves. University of Chicago Press, 1994
  • (with Keith Basso, as eds.) Senses of Place. School of American Research Press, 1996
  • (with Bambi B. Schieffelin and others) Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary. Australian National University, Pacific Linguistics C-153, 1998
  • (with Dick Blau, Charles Keil, and Angeliki V. Keil) Bright Balkan Morning: Romani Lives and the Power of Greek Music in Macedonia. Wesleyan University Press, 2002 Website ISBN 978-0-8195-6488-7
  • (with Virginia Ryan) Exposures: A White Woman in West Africa Voxlox Publication, 2006


  • Music of the Kaluli. Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, 1981
  • The Kaluli of Papua Nugini: Weeping and Song. Bärenreiter Musicaphon, 1985
  • Voices of the Rainforest. Rykodisc, 1991
  • Rainforest Soundwalks: Ambiences of Bosavi, Papua New Guinea. Earth Ear, 2001
  • Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea. Smithsonian Folkways, 2001
  • Bells and Winter Festivals of Greek Macedonia. Smithsonian Folkways, 2002

For VoxLox[edit]

  • The Time of Bells Vol. 1 & 2, 2004; Vol. 3 (with Nii Noi Nortey), 2005; Vol. 4, 2006
  • Suikinkutsu: A Japanese Underground Water Zither, 2006
  • The Castaways Project (with Virginia Ryan) 2006
  • Topographies of The Dark:2007


  1. ^ Liner notes to Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea. Smithsonian Folkways, 2001. Available at
  2. ^ Ear to the Earth artist page

External links[edit]