Susan Asai is an associate professor of ethnomusicology in the Music Department at Northeastern University in Boston. Her current area of research and writing is the nexus of music, identity, and cultural politics. Her most recent scholarship is a book entitled Sounding Our Way Home: Japanese American Musicking and the Politics of Identity. Other areas of research and publication include music as a means of agency – protest and resistance music, music in popular culture, music of the African diaspora and music’s role in cultural diplomacy.
Asai’s articles, “Hōraku: Buddhist Performing Arts and the Development of Taiko Drumming in the United States,” “Transformations of Tradition: Three Generations of Japanese American Music Making,” and “Sansei Voices in the Community: Japanese American Musicians in California,” in addition to encyclopedic entries on Japanese American music, place her in the vanguard of writing about this population of which she is a member. Asai’s other area of research and publication is the Japanese folk performing arts. Questia librarians selected her book, Nōmai Dance Drama of Northern Japan: A Surviving Spirit of Medieval Japan, as one of the fourteen best books on folk drama.
Teaching courses that introduce students to global musical cultures enable me to present music as a human activity that has the potential to connect and bond people of widely varying cultures. Music’s power to humanize and resolve differences is explored in the context of world peace.