I began my graduate studies in ethnomusicology at Columbia University in the fall of 2004, and graduated with a Ph.D. and distinction in 2012. My primary research interests include discourses of indigeneity and “wildness” in post-Soviet Ukrainian popular music, cultural policy towards music in the Soviet Union, music and nationalism, folklore and nuclear experience after Chornobyl, and late Soviet discourses of nature and the natural. I also work on critical organology, and wrote my M.A. thesis on the piano accordion’s “cultural baggage” (from William Schimmel) in the U.S. (looking particularly at the racialized and class-based stereotypes of the instrument in 19th and 20th white immigrant culture). The project traced how this “cultural baggage” is negotiated by current accordionists in New York City.
In 2008-2009, I spent 18 months conducting fieldwork in Crimea (among Crimean Tatar repatriates) and in the Carpathian Mountains (among Hutsul villagers) on grants from IREX-IARO, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Councils Foreign Language Training Grant. During my fieldwork I kept a blog, titled “My Simferopol Home.” In May of 2008, photographer Alison Cartwright joined me in Crimea, and we spent three weeks photographing and recording Crimean Tatar repatriates at their homes. This became the public ethnomusicology project “No Other Home: The Crimean Tatar Repatriates.”
In 2006, I completed my Master’s thesis, titled “The Accordion Project: Narratives in the Social Life of a Musical Instrument.”
I defended my dissertation, “Wild Music: Ideologies of Exoticism in Two Ukrainian Borderlands” in the fall semester of 2011. I was awarded distinction! The degree was conferred in February of 2012.