Lisa Gilman

Lisa Gilman profile picture
  • Title: Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-3967
  • Office: 447 PLC
  • Office Hours: On leave 2017-18
  • Affiliated Departments: Folklore Program
  • Interests: Folklore, Performance, Music, Dance, Gender, Sexuality, African Studies



FLR 225: Voices of Africa
FLR 250: Intro to Folklore
FLR 370: Folklore and Sexuality
FLR 416/516: African Folklore
FLR 418/518: Folklore and Gender
FLR 484/584: American Folklore
FLR 607: Folklore Fieldwork
ENG 607: Theories of Performance Studies


2016. My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wesleyan University Press.

2015 (co-edited with Michael Dylan Foster.  UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage. Indiana University Press.

2015 (co-edited with Michael Dylan Foster. “UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Global Policy for Intangible Cultural HeritageSpecial Issue of the Journal of Folklore Research 52(2-3).

2015. Demonic or Cultural Treasure: Local Perspectives on Vimbuza, Intangible Cultural Heritage, and UNESCO in Malawi. Journal of Folklore Research 52 (2-3): 199-216.

2013. 抗争”之辨:多重能动性、性别和马拉维(Resisting Resistance: Multiple Agencies, Gender, and  Politics in Malawi), trans. 李生柱、彭瑞红(Li Shengzhu and Peng Ruihong)民俗研究 (Journal: Folklore Studies. (期 2): 第-页 (12-25)

2013. Troupes Hors-Sol: Music, Espace, Mémoire dans la Guerre en Irak (Grounding the Troops: Music, Place, and Memory in the Iraq War).  Écoute: Discour, Pratiques, Médiation (Volume !: The Journal of Popular Music Studies). 10 (1): 171-88.

2012. Oppositional Positioning: The Military Identification of Young Anti-War Veterans. In Warrior Ways: Explorations in Modern Military Folklore, eds. Tad Tuleja and Eric Eliason. Utah State University Press.

2010  An American Soldier’s Ipod: Layers of Identity and Situated Listening in Iraq. Music and Politics 4 (2).

2009 The Dance of Politics: Performance, Gender, and Democratization in Malawi. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

2009 “Complex Genres, Intertextuality, and the Analysis of Performance.” Journal of American Folklore 122 (485): 335-62.
2008 “Rape.” Encyclopedia of Women's Folklore and Folklife, eds. Elizabeth Locke and Theresa Vaughan. Greenwood Press.
2006    (with John Fenn) “Dance, Gender, and Popular Music in Malawi: The Case of Rap and Ragga.” Special issue of Popular Music 25(3): 369-81.
2006  Dances of Nkhata Bay. Multimedia project. Ethnomusicological Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive Project [EVIADA].
2005    “Dance, Power, and the Creation of National Community in Malawian Politics.” Proceedings of the Congress on Research in Dance Spring
2005 Conference. Florida State University. Tallahasee, Florida.
2004  (with Clara Henderson) “Women as Religious and Political Praise Singers within African Institutions: The Case of the CCAP Blantyre Synod and Party Politics in Malawi.” Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 8: 22-40.
2004  “The Traditionalization of Women’s Dancing, Hegemony, and Politics in Malawi.” Journal of Folklore Research 41(1): 33-60.
2001    “Purchasing Praise: Women, Dancing, and Patronage in Malawi Party Politicking.” Africa Today 48(4): 43-64.
2000    “Cultural Change and the Case of Malipenga in Malawi.” In Mashindano! Competitive Music Performance in Tanzania and East Africa, eds. Frank Gunderson and Gregory Barz, pp. 321-45. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers.


Ph.D. Indiana University, Bloomington, 2001.

As a folklorist, I examine the intersections between creative expressions and social, political, and economic dynamics. I am especially interested in relationships between performance genres, usually dance and music, and issues of power related to gender, class, cultural identity, and politics.

Professional Memberships

  • American Folklore Society, Member of Executive Board
  • Society for Ethnomusicology
  • International Council for Traditional Music
  • Congress on Research in Dance
  • African Studies Association
  • National Women’s Studies Association


My current projects:
  • Folklore and Ethnomusicology fieldwork methods handbook
  • Edited volume called Everyday Life on the African Continet
  • The politics of intangible cultural heritage in Malawi.
  • The musical listening practices of American troops fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Anti-war activism of contemporary American war veterans.
  • Gender, dance and other performance genres, and gender in Malawi
I made a documentary film about contemporary G.I. resistance in the U.S. called Grounds for Resistance. Visit for more information.
Research and teaching areas:
  • Folklore
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • African Studies
  • Dance
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Music, Dance and War
  • Personal Narratives
  • Performance and Power



My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, recent technological developments in music listening enabled troops to carry vast amounts of music with them and easily acquire new music, for themselves and to share with their fellow troops as well as friends and loved ones far away. This ethnographic study examines U.S. troops’ musical-listening habits during and after war, and the accompanying fear,... Read more

UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage

For nearly 70 years, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has played a crucial role in developing policies and recommendations for dealing with intangible cultural heritage. What has been the effect of such sweeping global policies on those actually affected by them? How connected is UNESCO with what is happening every day, on the ground, in local... Read more

Book cover for "The Dance of Politics"

Lisa Gilman’s The Dance of Politics: Gender, Performance, and Democratization in Malawiexamines the “praise performing” women as a political tool in present-day Malawi.


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