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Department of Music Studies


Pavlos Kavouras is Professor Emeritus of Cultural Anthropology (Ethnography of Traditional Folk Music) of the Department of Music Studies at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He is also the Director of the Ethnomusicology and Cultural Anthropology Laboratory. He holds a Professional Degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. He holds an MA degree in Applied Urban Anthropology from City University of New York and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from The New School for Social Research of New York (1990). Since 2015 he is also Visiting Professor at the University of California (UCLA), at the Department of Ethnomusicology, teaching a seminar on “Globalization, cultural politics and the social dynamics of art”.

He conducted ethnographic field research in Greece (Karpathos, Thrace, Lesbos and East Macedonia), in the USA (New York-Greek immigrant community) and in Southwest India. His dissertation is focused on the extempore dialogical poetics and music of Karpathos –the performance of the “ghlendi”, a music-cultural ceremony of great symbolic significance for the local population. His ethnographic works include empirical and theoretical approaches to the production, reproduction and management of cultural knowledge, based on performance theory. His theoretical framework draws on sociological theory, history, philosophy and communications theory. His ethnographic approach deals with cultural performances and uses the concept of “performance” as a metaphor for anthropological reflexivity. His research investigates the relations between narrative and storytelling, experience and cultural communication and focuses on the interface between ethnography, phenomenological hermeneutics and performance theory. His main contribution to anthropological theory is the systematic focus on the concept of “migration”: migration as social movement as well as migration as ideological otherness.

He served as the Head of the Faculty of Music Studies (2006-2010) and is a co-founder and Director of the Graduate Programme “Music Culture and Communication: Anthropological and Communicational Approaches of Music” (2010-2012), run jointly by the Faculty of Music Studies and the Faculty of Communication and Mass Media at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. In 2015, as a University Seminars Fellow of the Onassis Foundation, gave a series of invited lectures in the US at Harvard University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the university of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University and the University of California in Los Angeles. The lectures focused on “the social politics of Greek culture as an example of collective response to globalization”. Special mention was made on the role of media and how they construct and manipulate social meanings through cultural performances. Another dimension of lecturing concerns the reshaping of social identity through tourism and the international film industry. In 2016 he was officially affiliated with the Netherlands and Flemish Institute in Cairo, conducting research and administering a collaborative project between Greece and Egypt with a broader focus on EU and the Arab world, through a systematic anthropological exploration of music and film.

He has taught various academic courses both at the undergraduate and graduate levels such as Introduction to EthnomusicologyAnthropology of MusicCultural AnthropologyEthnographic FilmMusic and the DivineSeminar: Music EthnographiesSeminar: Music BiographiesSeminar: Discourse Analysis, Questions of MethodologyMusic and the Other Arts. He is the author of the books Trickster and Cain: A Musical Allegory and Music as Art, Culture and Ideology: An Ethnographic Research among the Muslims of Thrace, Greece and the editor of Folklore and Tradition: Issues on the Re-presentation of Music and Dance. His published work consists in ethnographic and theoretical papers in Greek as well as in English in academic journals and edited volumes. He has participated in various research and educational projects and seminars as scientific director, principal investigator or special advisor and he is the “Ethnomusicology and Anthropology” series editor (Nissos Publications). Examples of his recent research activity are: “Performigrations: People Are the Territory” (European Union – Canada Programme for Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training 2014-2016), “Western Art Music at the Time of Crisis: An Interdisciplinary Study of Contemporary Greek Culture and European Integration” (ARISTEIA II 2014-2015), “Video Life Stories of Immigrants” (Hellenic Ministry of the Interior 2012-2013).