Ryan Skinner

Associate Professor

Ryan Skinner is a musical anthropologist who studies the expressive cultures and social worlds of contemporary Africa and its European diaspora, with extensive fieldwork conducted in Mali and Sweden. Specializing in the analytic methods of cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology, Skinner’s research focuses on issues of popular culture, ethics and aesthetics, public piety, cultural policy, intellectual property, racial identity and politics, and new social movements in the African world. Skinner’s scholarship has appeared in such journals as African and Black Diaspora, Africa Today, Research in African Literatures, Anthropological Quarterly, Africa, IASPM@Journal, Popular Music and Mande Studies. He is the author of Bamako Sounds: The Afropolitan Ethics of Malian Music (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), an ethnographic study of the popular music, postcolonial history and public culture of Bamako, Mali.  

Skinner’s current research examines modes of expression, identification, and political engagement within an emergent Afro-Swedish community. Rooted in contemporary Sweden and routed throughout Africa and its diaspora, Afro-Swedes are part of a growing African and diasporic presence in contemporary Europe, the product of multiple patterns of postcolonial labor, leisure, adoption, migration, refuge, and asylum. Through ethnographic inquiry, textual analysis, and historical study, this work explores understandings and expressions of Afro-Swedish identity in music, dance, theater, film, and verbal art. This research has been generously supported by grants from the Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences, American Swedish Institute, and the American Scandinavian Association, and an ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship.

Skinner is also the author and illustrator of the award-winning children's book, Sidikiba's Kora Lesson (Beaver's Pond Press, 2008) and is an accomplished kora (21-stringed West African harp) player.

Skinner directs the Lectures in Musicology series in the School of Music and serves as director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of African American and African Studies. He holds affiliations with the Departments of French and Italian and Germanic Languages and Literatures.

Selected Publications

  • 2018. “Walking, Talking, Remembering: An Afro-Swedish Critique of Being-in-the-world,” African and Black Diaspora
  • 2017. “Why Afropolitanism Matters,” Africa Today
  • 2015. “An Afropolitan Muse,” Research in African Literatures
  • 2013. “Money Trouble in an African Art World: Copyright, Piracy, and the Politics of Culture in Postcolonial Mali,” IASPM@Journal
  • 2012. “Cultural Politics in the Post-Colony: Music, Nationalism, and Statism in Mali, 1964-1975,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
  • 2012. “Artists, Music Piracy, and the Crisis of Political Subjectivity in Contemporary Bamako,” Anthropological Quarterly
  • 2010. “Civil Taxis and Wild Trucks: The Dialectics of Social Space and Subjectivity in Dimanche à Bamako,” Popular Music
Areas of Expertise
  • Ethnomusicology, Cultural Anthropology,
  • African Studies, Afro-European Studies
  • PhD, Ethnomusicology, Columbia University (2009)

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Columbus, OH 43210