Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy’s research, writing, teaching, curatorial activities, and multi-media publications often have an applied focus, aimed at community development of minority traditions, especially in diasporic settings. She served as curator and presented the first concert and lecture tour outside India with a group of African-Indian Sidi performers from Gujarat, in September 2002, traveling with them in England and Wales. Her recent publications include Sidi Sufis: African Indian Mystics of Gujarat (Apsara Media 2002: 79-minute CD), the volume co-edited with Indian Ocean historian Edward Alpers, Sidis and Scholars: Essays on African Indians (New Delhi: Rainbow Publications, 2003), the DVD The Sidi Malunga Project (2004), and the DVD From Africa to India: Sidi Music in the Indian Ocean Diaspora (with Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy) (2003). Funding for her research has come from such agencies as NEA, NEH, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the American Philosophical Society, Fulbright, the Indo-US Subcommission, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.
Her most recent video publication is the DVD Music for a Goddess (2008), a continuing applied ethnomusicology project concerning Dalit (formerly known as Untouchable) Devidasis (women musicians dedicated to the Goddess) of the Deccan (India’s central plateau, where the most severe rural poverty reigns in many regions).
In 2015 she began the Sidi Literacy Project in Gujarat, where she works with African-Indian Sidis in collaboration with the NGO Eklavya. Her most recent print publications are reviews of Music, Dance, and the Art of Seduction (Eburon 2013) in Chime (2015), and Wolf’s The Voice in the Drum: Music, Language and Emotion in Islamicate South Asia (University of Illinois Press, 2014) in American Anthropologist (118: 2016). The Sidi Literacy Project in Gujarat, which Catlin continues to help coordinate, is in its third year-in-progress in 2017, in keeping with the United Nations’ ‘International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024’.
Each Winter she conducts field research in India, continuing to restudy Arnold Bake’s 1938 documentation, most recently with puppeteer-musicians in Mysore, Karnataka, and their rendition of the story of Satya Harischandra.
Catlin-Jairazbhoy studied piano, voice, and musicianship at the Peabody Conservatory from 1961-1966, teaching there and at the Junior Composers Camp (now the Walden School) from 1964-1966 as a protege of its founder, Grace Cushman, who fostered creative explorations of non-Western musical systems. Sensing the need for intercultural understanding as evidenced by America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, she left the Conservatory for a liberal arts education at Vassar College, where she continued her keyboard improvisations for modern dance classes, attending Wesleyan University classes in India’s music. Concluding that music was her best tool for promoting interculturalism, she enrolled at Yale University School of Music, intensifying her Indian music studies at Wesleyan, as part of her doctoral coursework at Brown University, with concentrations in Ethnomusicology, South and Southeast Asia (India and Bali) and Anthropology.
For over 30 years Catlin- Jairazbhoy has studied classical and folk musics in India, where she continues to perform Western classical and Indian-influenced contemporary musics in concerts, oratorios, schools and orphanages, and on All India Radio. Her career is dedicated full-time to music scholarship, field research and documentation, community advocacy, and performance, integrating her Western classical vocal training with non-classical, non-Western music.
She curated and performed in “Mystic Voices: Music of Devotion in Islam and Hinduism” for the first World Festival of Sacred Music, where her singing was described as “…lustrous…” (The Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1999).
Catlin-Jairazbhoy’s courses at UCLA have include Field and Laboratory Methods, Applied Ethnomusicology, Music of Asia, Classical Music of South India, Classical Music of India, Folk Music of South Asia, Music of Europe and the Americas, Music and Ethnographic Film, Music and the Sacred, the World Arts and Cultures Senior Colloquium, and Music of Bollywood and Beyond.
Classical and non-classical musics of South and Southeast Asians and Asian-Americans; field methodology; ethnographic film in ethnomusicology; music and the sacred; applied and public sector ethnomusicology; Bollywood
Ph.D. Brown University; M. Mus. Yale University; B.A. Vassar College