Rebecca Dirksen is an assistant professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University (IU). Working across the spectrum of musical genres in Haiti and its diaspora, her research concerns cultural approaches to development, creative responses to crisis and disaster, dialogues of sustainability and diverse environmentalisms, intangible cultural heritage and cultural policy, and applied/engaged scholarship.
At Radcliffe, Dirksen is completing a book about musical models of grassroots development in Haiti before and after the earthquake of 2010. An ethnography of disaster and of development, this work moves beyond simply examining how ordinary Haitian citizens use musical dialogue to critique infrastructural weaknesses and abuses of authority to demonstrating how a growing number of social and civic groups employ music as an explicit and fundamental tool for strengthening their communities.
Dirksen earned a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 2012, along with a master’s degree in music and cultural studies from the University of Roehampton and a bachelor’s in piano performance from Lawrence University. She has held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received support from the Inter-American Foundation, IU’s College Arts & Humanities Institute, and UCLA’s International Institute and its Graduate Division, among others. In 2014, she was recognized by the Banque de la République d’Haïti for her dedication to the advancement of Haitian music. Dirksen’s scholarship has been published in the Bulletin du Bureau d’ethnologie de la Republique d’Haïti, Ethnomusicology Review, the Yearbook for Traditional Music, and elsewhere.