Dr Kathleen Noss Van Buren

BMus, BA, MA, PhD

Department of Music

Honorary Research Fellow

k.j.vanburen@sheffield.ac.uk

Full contact details

Dr Kathleen Noss Van Buren
Department of Music
Jessop Building
Leavygreave Rd
Sheffield
S3 7RD
Profile

I am an ethnomusicologist with special interests in medical and applied ethnomusicology, arts and social change, and musics of Africa. I have published and presented at conferences worldwide on a variety of topics, ranging from music and HIV/AIDS in Kenya to representing the Bible through African performing arts. I also have experience in music and dance of the African diaspora, specifically in Bolivia, Peru, and Haiti. I have received funding from a number of sources, including UCLA Dissertation Year and Research Mentorship Fellowships, the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the British Academy, and the Knowledge Transfer Opportunities Fund. I have been an active member of SEM, ICTM and BFE, and am currently secretary of SEM’s SIG for Medical Ethnomusicology.

From 2006-2016, I was a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at the University of Sheffield. I taught a number of modules in ethnomusicology and, at various periods, served as Director of the MA in World Music Studies and Director of the MA in Ethnomusicology. In 2016, I left this role when I relocated to the US. I was appointed Honorary Research Fellow in October 2016.

Prior to working at the University of Sheffield, I received an MA (in 2002) and a PhD (in 2006) from the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. My PhD dissertation was entitled “Stealing Elephants, Creating Futures: Exploring Uses of Music and Other Arts for Community Education in Nairobi, Kenya.” I also hold a BA in English and a self-designed BM in ethnomusicology (1999) from Lawrence University and Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Most recently I have worked with Brian Schrag on Make Arts for a Better Life: A Guide for Working with Communities (OUP, 2018). The Guide presents an in-depth approach to researching artistic practices within communities and to developing arts-based projects that address locally defined needs. We include specific steps to take when developing arts-based projects, as well as sample case studies from around the world related to three broad categories of possible goals for community arts programs: identity and sustainability, health and well-being, and human rights. An accompanying website provides methodology “cheat sheets,” sample research documents, and specific suggestions for educators, researchers, and project leaders.

Research interests
  • Music and dance in Africa and the African diaspora
  • The efficacy of music and musicians in promoting social change
  • Applied ethnomusicology
  • Medical ethnomusicology
  • Individual studies