Dr. Frank Gunderson is Professor of Musicology at Florida State University (FSU). He received the B.A. degree from Evergreen State College (WA), and the M.A. in World Music and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University (CT). He has held previous appointments at Ohio University and University of Michigan, and he once taught for two years in a village Harambee secondary school in Kenya.
Gunderson’s research and teaching interests include musical intersections with Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and sonic repatriation, African history, Islam, musical labor, veterans’ issues, biographical approaches, refugee communities, and documentary film. His research has been supported recently by Fulbright (Distinguished Chair Award, 2021-2022), and he has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hays, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Gunderson’s professional affiliations include the African Studies Association (ASA), the American Anthropological Association (AAA), and the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM).
Gunderson is currently General Editor (2018-2022) of the SEM academic journal Ethnomusicology and is co-founder and co-Editor-in-Chief (together with Benjamin Harbert) of the new SEM Journal of Audiovisual Ethnomusicology. He has also served as the SEM Journal’s Film, Video, and Multimedia Review Editor, and has twice been a guest editor of the journal World of Music.
Gunderson has published more than fifty articles and reviews in Ethnomusicology, Africa Today, History and Anthropology, Soundings, and African Music, many of which can be found here. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in East Africa, and produced the recording Tanzania: Farmer Composers of North West Tanzania (1997, Multicultural Media) and co-edited with Gregory Barz the book Mashindano!: Competitive Music Performance in East Africa (2000, Mkuki na Nyota Press/African Books Collective LTD, Michigan State University Press). His book “We Never Sleep We Dream of Farming”: Sukuma Labor Songs from Western Tanzania (Brill Academic Press, 2010) was the 2009-2011 winner of the SEM Kwabena Nketia Book Award for best African music monograph. He co-edited with Robert Lancefield and Bret Woods The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation (OUP 2018), and recently completed the dual biography, The Legacy of Tanzanian Musicians Muhidin Gurumo and Hassan Bitchuka – Rhumba Kiserebuka! (2018, Lexington Books/Rowman and Littlefield), which received Honorable Mentions from both the Alan Meriam Best Book prize committee (SEM) and the Best Book Prize committee of the International Council for Traditional Music.
Gunderson is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. While music director of KAOS radio in Olympia, WA, he worked with his cousin, the Northwest “outsider” musician Travis Roberts, on a project that culminated in several high-profile indie recordings as well as an award-winning film co-directed with Bret Woods called Human Skab (SnagFilms, 2012). His recent film about a Tanzanian drum-maker, Ng’oma: The Work of Our Clan (Alexander Street / Ethnographic Video Online, 2020), has been shown in dozens of film festivals worldwide. His most recent film project, “Beloved Youth of Many Days”: Stories about Mlimani Park Orchestra, is about a well-known rhumba band in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Gunderson is a guitarist, with a keen interest in all things Fender and Fender-like. He is also an avid ocean kayaker in the Florida Big Bend area.