Skip to main content

Dr Ruth Davis

BMus (Hons) (London), MFA, PhD (Princeton)

Subjects: Music

Ruth Davis is an ethnomusicologist specializing in music cultures of North Africa, the Middle East and the wider Mediterranean. Formerly University Reader in Ethnomusicology she held the first (and throughout her tenure sole) established position in ethnomusicology in the University, which was also the first designated position in ethnomusicology in the UK. She was the first Fellow of the College to direct studies in Music. Her publications include some fifty peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and edited collections, and she has presented numerous radio broadcasts for the BBC and international radio stations. Her book Ma’luf: Reflections on the Arab Andalusian Music of Tunisia (2004) is the first substantial study in English on an Arab-Andalusian musical repertory and explores its modern development in relation to nation-building in the colonial and post-colonial worlds. Her edition of Robert Lachmann’s ‘Oriental Music’ broadcasts, transmitted by the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1936-1937 (A-R Editions, 2013), focuses on Lachmann’s archive project in Mandate Palestine consisting of nearly one thousand metal disc recordings representing musical traditions of different ethnic and religious communities. This edition, which received an ARSC Award for Excellence, includes a 2-CD set of Lachmann’s digitally restored recordings.

Her current research explores popular song and memory among Tunisian Jewish ​diasporic communities in France, where she is chercheuse associée of the CREM–CNRS at Université Paris–Nanterre. She chairs the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group for Mediterranean Music Studies, and is the Music Section editor of the Encyclopedia of Islam (third edition).

College Position

Life Fellow

University Position

Emeritus Reader in Ethnomusicology