Salam and welcome! I am Elise Anderson, a doctoral candidate (ABD) pursuing dual Ph.D. degrees in Ethnomusicology and Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU). My research focuses broadly on the music and other performing arts of the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I am interested in the variety of ways in which music can become an object of symbol-making and cultural transformation at the same time that it is a lived and embodied practice of artistic expression. Scholarly debates about symbols form the theoretical and conceptual core of my research. In all of my work, I espouse an approach informed equally by ethnomusicology and area studies, and premised on the value of longterm fieldwork, meaningful participant-observation, high-level language facility, and deep cultural immersion.
Photo by China Radio International’s English-language service
I was born and raised in a tiny town in rural southern Oklahoma and called the Sooner State home until 2006, when I became an honorary Midwesterner after moving to Bloomington, Indiana, to begin graduate studies. From 2012 to 2016 I was based out of Ürümchi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, where I conducted ethnographic and archival fieldwork for my doctoral dissertation. In July 2016 I moved back to Bloomington, where I am currently writing my dissertation and working as a Proposal Development Consultant at the IU GradGrants Center. I feel privileged to be able to pursue the “life of the mind” and am currently on the job market to pursue a tenure-track professorship. Please take a look at my CV and visit the Research and Teaching tabs on this site to learn more about my studies and academic work.
During my Ürümchi days, I had a side gig as an entertainment personality on Uyghur-language stages and screens. From Fall 2014 to Summer 2015, I was a participant on the first season of Xinjiang Television’s The Voice of the Silk Road (Uy. يىپەك يولى ساداسى, Ch. 丝绸之路好声音). My appearance on the show catapulted me into a regional “fame” that brought me side work in the form of various television and radio appearances, studio recording opportunities, and concert tours, as well as a short-lived stint as a singer at an upscale Ürümchi restaurant. In addition to being a vocalist, I also play the dutar (a two-stringed lute found through Central Eurasia), along with a smattering of Western wind instruments. To learn more about my performance and entertainment activities, please click here.
I have always had a keen interest in language, and in all the spare time I don’t actually have, I run a small freelance business specializing in translation, language tutoring, editing, and grant-writing. Please visit my Freelance Services tab to learn more about the various services I offer.
In yet other spare time I don’t actually have, I dance (swing, salsa, various forms of Central Eurasian folk), run, cook, bake, and try my hand at writing humorous but poignant essays, which I proceed never to try to publish anywhere.
Don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions or would like to request an interview, discussion, performance, lecture, or anything else. I look forward to hearing from and/or working with you!