Ronald Radano earns a Berlin Prize Fellowship

The professor will analyze colonial-era African recordings in Berlin’s Ethnographic Museum.

Ronald Radano, a professor of African Cultural Studies and Music, has been named a 2018-19 Berlin Prize Fellow, the American Academy in Berlin announced.

Radano is an ethnomusicologist with a special interest in the history of U.S. Black music and its transnational circulation. He approaches his subject through the interpretive mechanisms of social and cultural theory and history, giving particular emphasis to the ideological formation of race. He teaches seminars and courses on a variety of topics, including ethnomusicological history and theory, global jazz and the cultural study of music.

Radano has held research residencies and fellowships at the WEB Du Bois Institute at Harvard, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Pennsylvania as a Rockefeller Fellow. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1997 and a Senior Fellow at Wisconsin’s Institute for Research in the Humanities from 2013 to 2017.

For the semester-long Berlin Prize Fellowship, Radano will spend the spring of 2019 at the Academy to undertake a close analysis of the colonial-era African recordings of the Phonogram Archive at Berlin’s Ethnographic Museum. He will comb through roughly 2,500 phonographic cylinders of African performances produced in Africa and in Berlin prior to 1918. By observing the sources in the context of European-African colonial relations and against the background of Western ideas of race, Radano aims to rethink the history of Black music as a transnational concept, linking Germany and Africa to the U.S. and the world.

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