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
Music & Global Cultures is an exploration of music from around the world drawing from the theoretical and methodological discipline of ethnomusicology. This field has been defined as the study of “people making music” (Titon) or of music “as” culture. Ethnomusicologists seek an understanding of the connections between musical expression and other elements of society. Music can reflect a community’s experience as well as becoming a catalyst for political and social change. In this course you will explore the ways different musics are created, performed, used and passed on to future generations. In class we will hone our listening skills, analyze musical and rhythmic structure, read ethnographic accounts of musical performances, as well as discuss and write about music.

In the News

  • December 4, 2023

    a dancer on a stage, raised several feet in the air, with a long and wide skirt ballooned out and held by four other dancers.

    AstroDance II: Across the Universe

    The inaugural production in the newest building on the RIT campus, AstroDance II: Across the Universe, premiered Dec. 1 to 3 and featured a variety of dance, aerial and circus arts, and augmented reality. 

  • September 6, 2023

    five people holding orange shovels at a ceremonial ground breaking.

    RIT breaks ground for new music performance theater

    In order to accommodate a surge in students engaged in performing arts, an official groundbreaking was held today for RIT’s new music performance theater, the first major theater project in the Rochester area in decades. The three-story, 40,000-square-foot building will consist of a 750-seat theater primarily to be used for musical theater productions.