Margarethe Adams is an ethnomusicologist at Stony Brook University specializing in music, political ideology, and belief in Central Asia. She has conducted ethnographic research in Kazakhstan, northwest China, and Mongolia, and has published in Collaborative Anthropology and The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture. Her first monograph, Steppe Dreams: Time and Mediation in Postsocialist Celebrations in Kazakhstan, investigates temporality and politics in postsocialist popular culture. A second project, a study of music and belief in Central Asia, focuses on postsecular forms of religion and spirituality, including Muslim pilgrimage, sacred tourism, and Korean evangelical practices in Kazakhstan.
In both my teaching and research I am committed to global studies. In conducting multi-sited, transnational research, I am particularly interested in community histories that cross multiple state borders through the Soviet era and beyond. My research examines how former homelands and relinquished pasts reside in songs and family histories, and how postsocialist mobilities have again set families in motion, with younger generations returning to the homelands of their grandparents and great-grandparents. In teaching, too, I strive for a transnational reach. In both graduate and undergraduate classes, students are encouraged to ply a panoramic transnational historical lens in order to contextualize the specific music traditions we study. In Music and Islam, for example, we investigate how Silk Road trade, the rise and rapid flourishing of Islam, and the centrality of medieval Baghdad with its libraries and vast scholarly reach, all contribute to an unparalleled exchange of ideas that plant the seeds of the western Renaissance. We also cross disciplinary boundaries, in examining how water management, architecture, music, and court life intersect in the oasis cities of Central Asia.