Gavin Steingo c. Andrew Wilkinson

Gavin Steingo Awarded Alan Merriam Prize

Published By: 
Dasha Koltunyuk
Nov 2, 2017

Congratulations to Gavin Steingo, our new Assistant Professor of Music, who has been awarded the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Alan Merriam Prize for his book Kwaito's Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa (The University of Chicago Press).

The Alan Merriam Prize, one of the highest honors awarded by the Society for Ethnomusicology, is given to “recognize the most distinguished, published English-language monograph in the field of ethnomusicology” at any rank. The award is usually reserved for senior scholars, and is rarely awarded to assistant professors. For a list of past recipients, please visit the Society for Ethnomusicology.

Steingo’s article “Sound and Circulation: Immobility and Obduracy in South African Electronic Music,” which forms one of the chapters of his book, received Honorable Mention for the Jaap Kunst Prize at the Society for Ethnomusicology last year. The award recognizes the most significant article in ethnomusicology written in the past year, also regardless of academic rank.

Praise for Kwaito’s Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa:

David B. Coplan, University of the Witwatersrand
“Kwaito’s Promise delivers more than it promises. The book is not simply an account of the rise of a popular genre that provided the soundscape for South African township youth in the first years of freedom. It ventures boldly into an uncompromising, complex analysis of how this amorphous style of music gave form to the cultural imaginary, indeed to the very lives of its consuming creators. Heita!”

Louise Meintjes, Duke University
“A work that will make music ethnography legible to scholars engaged with critical theory. Steingo produces a story that makes kwaito sensible to those unfamiliar with it and that brings kwaito fans into print without reducing their struggle nor demanding that they represent resistance. The result is an exceptional analysis of freedom in music.”