Michael Iyanaga

I am a guitarist and scholar born and raised in California (USA), currently Mellon Faculty Fellow in Latin American Studies at The College of William and Mary, USA. In 2013, I received my PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. For over a decade my main research focus has been the music of northeastern Brazil, from liturgical and religious song to popular street genres. Using both historical and ethnographic methodologies, my research is concerned with uncovering the ways in which silenced or forgotten histories of Africa and the slave trade are embodied in musical performance (esp. in Catholic song and ritual), and how such histories can transform and complicate common understandings of the profound contributions Africans and their descendents have made not only to Brazil but also to the Americas more broadly.

I am currently expanding my dissertation into two book manuscripts, one of which focuses primarily on the transcontinental histories embodied in a single Brazilian family’s devotion to Saint Roch, while the other explores patron saint rituals in Bahia (Brazil) as manifestations of happiness (alegria).

It is a thrill to be part of Modern Moves, a project whose ambitious scope and provocative interrogations force us to rethink the ways in which corporeal movement can burst with a multiplicity of histories and experiences, and thus challenge dominant notions of how knowledge is transmitted, accrued, and lived.