Erica Haskell Headshot

Erica Haskell

School Director

School of Performing Arts
College of Liberal Arts

Office Location

Erica Haskell

School Director

School of Performing Arts
College of Liberal Arts


Erica Haskell is the Inaugural Director of the School of Performing Arts and Professor of Ethnomusicology. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in ethnomusicology from Brown University and a BA in music performance from Mills College (C. She has taught courses in The Politics of Music, Film Music, Illegality in Theater and Music, World Music and American Roots Music. From 2019-2022 she served as the Oskar Schindler Humanities Endowed Professor at the University of New Haven during which she, and her students, produced several podcasts about refugee musicians based on ethnographic interviews they conducted in Connecticut. At the University of New Haven she also served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences among other leadership positions. 

Haskell is the co-founder of Free Dirt Records, a record label that also offered distribution, management and publishing administration services. In the last few years label artists have received three Grammy nominations. Free Dirt has released albums by Pokey LaFarge, Anna and Elizabeth, Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerard, Willi Carlisle, Jake Blount, Che Alpalache Rachel Baiman, Vivian Leva and The Wilders among others.

She is also co-producer of the critically acclaimed American folk music album Starlight on the Rails by U. Utah Phillips released on AK Press and Daemon Records. Haskell founded a music-recording project in three Hungarian refugee camps which was the subject of articles about refugee music in the Utne Reader and ai magazine (Art International). 

In her scholarly work she has explored the politics of music, applied/activist ethnomusicology, and the involvement of international humanitarian organizations in cultural events and projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She is particularly interested in the interaction between and intersection of cultural activities (such as radio, festivals and record production which are the subjects of three of the case studies) and international projects in humanitarian assistance, democracy assistance, economic development, peace initiatives and civil-society building within the context of historical periods of occupation. Her chapter, "The Role of Applied Ethnomusicology in Post-conflict and Post-catastrophe Communities", was published in The Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology by Oxford University Press in 2019 and "Funding Festivals: Bringing the World to the Capital, Sarajevo" was published in Muzikoloski Zbornik (Musicology – Institute of Musicology, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in January of 2017.



Currently Teaching

3 Credits
A course designed to explore selected music cultures from North America, South America, Africa, India, Asia, East Asia, and Central and Southeastern Europe. The primary goal of the course will be to expand understanding of and perceptions about music both outside and within Western cultural traditions. In addition to class discussions, students will have opportunities for hands-on activities associated with the cultures studied.

In the News

  • April 25, 2023

    three college students singing on stage with playbills flying through the air.

    Where STEM and the Arts Live in Harmony 

    Inside Higher Ed features RIT’s Performing Arts Scholarship program and talks to student Mia Clarizio, School of Performing Arts Director Erica Haskell, and RIT President David Munson.

  • April 10, 2023

    Sandeep performing on stage.

    Internationally known Indian tabla musician to perform at RIT

    Sandeep Das, a Grammy-winning musician and internationally known master of the Indian tabla, will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 14 at RIT. Das is the founder of Harmony and Universality through Music (HUM), a nonprofit organization in India that promotes global understanding through music performance and provides learning opportunities and scholarships for visually impaired children with artistic potential.