I began my graduate studies in ethnomusicology at Columbia University in the fall of 2004, and graduated with a Ph.D. 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” and was awarded distinction in 2012. I held post-doctoral fellowships through the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and the Munk School for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto before beginning a professorship at Bard College in 2014.