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Maho IshiguroAssistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Maho Ishiguro’s research focuses on performing arts of Indonesia. She uses dance and music as a lens for studying and engaging with Indonesian people, cultural practices, and living traditions. Maho began her study of Javanese court dance and Central Javanese gamelan music at Wesleyan, and has since trained with renowned teachers at the Mangkunegaran court in Surakarta, Indonesia. She is a longtime student of Sumarsam, a prominent Indonesian ethnomusicologist; and I.M. Harjito, master of Central Javanese Gamelan. She also studied Acehnese dance with a renowned art community, Sanggar Rampoe Banda Aceh, under the tutelage of Zul Kifli and Yusri Sulaiman, maestro of music and dance from Aceh. Maho holds a Ph.D. ('18) and M.A. ('12) in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, and the M.M. in Historical Musicology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst ('10).

Her current research focuses on how Acehnese and Javanese performing arts practitioners negotiate and navigate through the current socio-cultural and religious climate, particularly today’s conservative turn in Islam in Indonesia. Maho has received several prestigious awards and fellowships, including Fulbright- Hays DDRA Fellowship, grants from Society of Asian Music, FLAS Fellowship, Critical Language Studies (the U.S. Department of State) and the Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship from Society of Ethnomusicology and AIFIS-Luce Fellowship from Cornell University. 

Ishiguro is a strong exponent of pedagogical techniques that employ both scholarly engagement and praxis within the performing arts. Her specializations and interests are: ethnomusicology; music and dance of Indonesia (Java and Aceh); impact of Islamization on performing arts; women’s performing arts in Muslim society; popular art cultures of Southeast Asia; ethnography and film documentation; representations of identities (gender and ethnicity) through movements and sounds; and translation.

Selected Publications

  • “Dance as Cultural Expression vs. Practice of Piety: Acehnese Dance in a Javanese Court City.” Dance Research Journal. Cambridge University Press (December 2022)
  • “Decline and Promise: Observations from a Present Day Pangrawit,” co-authored with Darsono Hadiraharjo. Chapter in Sounding Indonesia: State of Indonesian Music edited by Andy McGraw and Christopher J. Miller. Cornell University Press (October, 2022).
  • “Ratoeh Jaroe: Islam, Youth and Popular Dance in Jakarta, Indonesia.” Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol. 51 (November 2019)
  • “Gifts from the waves: The Rise of Cultural Appreciation, Sharia Law and Women’s Roles in Performing Arts in Post-Tsunami Aceh.” Asian Music Journal50, no.2 (July 2019)
  • PhDWesleyan University2018
  • MAWesleyan University2012
  • MMUniversity of Massachusetts, Amherst2010
  • BAColgate University2004