Richard Jankowsky

Richard Jankowsky

Contact Info:
Department of Music
Granoff Music Center, M274
20 Talbot Avenue
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617-627-2388

Office Hours:
By appointment

Associate Professor of Music, Department Chair 

Ph.D., University of Chicago (2004)
B.A., Tufts University (1995)

Richard Jankowsky, Ph.D., received his BA in Anthropology and Music from Tufts University and his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago. Prior to his appointment to the Department of Music at Tufts University in 2006, he was on the faculty of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, England.

Through fieldwork-based methods, Professor Jankowsky's research revolves around the intersection of music and power in North Africa, particularly music's capacity to heal, to maintain and narrate histories of underrepresented populations, to articulate religious sentiment, and to serve as a flashpoint for debates over cultural, religious, and political identities. His music analytical work explores issues of repetition, density, and transformation in contemporary trance rituals. His book Stambeli: Music, Trance, and Alterity in Tunisia, received three honorable mention awards for book prizes from academic societies in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology, and North African Studies. He is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Institute for Maghrib Studies, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Fulbright/IIE. Jankowsky is on leave in academic year 2017-18 as a National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellow to complete his book Ambient Sufism: Devotional Pluralism and Music as Everyday Mysticism in North Africa.

Research Interests
Music of North Africa; music, ritual, and religion; music and minorities; rhythmic theory

Teaching areas
Musics of North Africa and the Middle East; musical systems of the Arab world; music and trance; music, culture, and power; world music; ethnomusicology theory and methods


  • Stambeli: Music, Trance, and Alterity in Tunisia (University of Chicago Press, 2010)
  • Editor, The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Musics of the World Volume X: Genres of North Africa and the Middle East (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Articles and Chapters

  • "Voicing the Between in Tunisian Stambeli." In Resounding Transcendence: Transitions in Music, Ritual, and Religion, edited by Jeffers Engelhardt and Philip Bohlman, 79-94. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press (2016)
  • "The Middle East and North Africa." Excursions in World Music, 7th edition, edited by Timothy Rommen. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 62-103 (2016)
  • "The Medium is the Message? Jazz Diplomacy and the Democratic Imagination." In Jazz Worlds / World Jazz, edited by Goffredo Plastino and Philip Bohlman, 258-288. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2016)
  • "Rhythmic Elasticity and Metric Transformation in Tunisian Stambeli." Analytical Approaches to World Music 3 (1):34-61 (2013) 
  • "Music, Spirit Possession, and the In-Between: Ethnomusicological Inquiry and the Challenge of Trance." Ethnomusicology Forum 16 (2):195-218 (2007)
  • "Black Spirits, White Saints: Music, Spirit Possession, and Sub-Saharans in Tunisia." Ethnomusicology 50 (3):373-410 (2006)