Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles (2013)
Master of Arts, Ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles (2006)
Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, minor in Music, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts (1996)


Jesse Ruskin is a Lecturer in Liberal Arts & Sciences at Otis, where he teaches Popular Music, Media & Global Culture; Ways of Knowing: Story & Culture; Music of the Civil Rights Era; Sex, Gender, & Rock ’n’ Roll; Music that Changed the World; Music & The Black Renaissance; and Capstone. His academic work focuses on the creation, circulation, and reception of global popular music. Jesse’s writing has appeared in the Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology Review, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Discourses in African Musicology, the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, and the Los Angeles Times. In addition to teaching and writing, Jesse plays a variety of musical instruments and composes original songs. He was Evaluation & Development Associate at the Ford Theatre from 2015-2019 and a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music from 2013-2016, 2019, and 2022. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Music from Tufts University and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA. 

Professional Affiliations:

  • African Studies Association
  • Society for Ethnomusicology


Selected Fellowships and Awards:

  • 2013 Doctoral Hooding Student Marshal Nominee, UCLA
  • 2011 Clifton Webb Scholarship, UCLA
  • 2010, Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship
  • 2009 Institute of American Cultures Research Grant, Bunche Center for African
  • American Studies, UCLA
  • 2008 International Institute Fieldwork Fellowship, dissertation project grant, UCLA
  • 2007 Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Fellowship for Intensive Advanced Yorùbá in Nigeria, University of Florida, Gainesville

Professional Accomplishments/Exhibitions:  

Selected Conference Papers and Invited Lectures:

  • 2019, Panelist, “Global Field Recordings: A Publishing Collaboration between the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive and Adam Matthew Digital.” Southern California and Hawaii Chapter Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, March 2, Santa Barbara, California.
  • 2019, “The Darius L. Thieme Collection of Yorùbá Music, 1964-1967: A Collaborative Archiving Project.” Invited lecture presented at Documenting the Sounds of Africa: A Symposium Celebrating the Re-opening of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive and Honoring the Work of Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, UCLA, January 11.
  • 2016 Co-curator with Neel Agrawal, African Drumming Laws: Colonial Governance of African Customs, Exhibition at LA Law Library (January-March 2016)
  • 2016, Panelist, “What Does Cultural Sustainability Sound Like? Promises and Perils of Innovation and Transformation in African Musics.” African Studies Association Annual Meeting, December 1, Washington, DC.
  • 2016, Discussant, “Beyond Cultural Imperialism.” Southern California and Hawaii Chapter Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, March 4, Los Angeles, California.


Selected Publications:

  • 2019, “Afrobeat” and “Jùjú” in Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • 2017-2019 Contributing Editor, Adam Matthew Digital/UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive Partnership – Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings.
  • 2015, “Biographical Writing and Individual Creativity in African Musicology.” In Discourses in African Musicology: J. H. Kwabena Nketia Festschrift. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press/Maize Books.
  • 2014, Review of Yorùbá Music in the Twentieth Century: Identity, Agency, and Performance Practice, by Bode Omojola. Yearbook for Traditional Music 46.
  • 2014, “Cambodian Music Festival Salutes Tradition, New Artists Paving the Way.” LA Times, July 26.
  • 2014, Review of Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music, by Jesse Weaver Shipley. Ethnomusicology Review 18/19. Online.
  • 2013, The Yorùbá Dùndún [Talking Drum] in Local and Transnational Perspective: A Cosmopolitan Tradition in the Making, Ph.D. Dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles.
  • 2012 Co-author with Timothy Rice, “The Individual in Musical Ethnography.” Ethnomusicology 56(2).
  • 2011 “Talking Drums in Los Angeles: Brokering Culture in an American Metropolis.” Black Music Research Journal 31(1).
  • 2010 Review of Ancient Text Messages of the Yorùbá Bàtá Drum: Cracking the Code, by Amanda Villepastour. Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology 15. Online.
  • 2006 “Collecting and Connecting: Archiving Filipino American Music in Los Angeles.” Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology 11. Online.

Clients/Employment History:  

Selected Teaching:

  • 2019-present, Lecturer in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Otis College of Art and Design
  • 2019 and 2022, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, Global Pop, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
  • 2013-2016, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, Global Pop and Music Around the World, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music