Jessica Swanston Baker

Assistant Professor
Department of Music and the College

Jessica Swanston Baker is an ethnomusicologist who specializes in contemporary popular music of and in the circum-Caribbean. Her research and teaching interests include coloniality, decolonization, and respectability, as well as issues within Caribbean theory relating to small islands. Her current ethnographic book project, “Too Fast: Music, Coloniality, and Time in St. Kitts and Nevis,” examines the relationship between tempo perception and gendered and raced legacies of colonization. More specifically, she posits that colonial understandings of black femininity and Enlightenment notions of musicianship frame perceptions of wylers, a local music genre, as “too fast.” Her most recent article, “Black Like Me: Caribbean Tourism and the St. Kitts Music Festival,” published in Ethnomusicology, takes up a second area of research interest, centering on music performance and consumption, and black diasporic travel between the United States and small, Anglophone Caribbean islands.

Baker is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Caribbean Philosophical Association, and the Society for Ethnomusicology.

Baker received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Bucknell University and a PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral fellow in critical Caribbean studies at Rutgers University.

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