Program Head, Arab Crossroads; Visiting Professor of Anthropology
Education: BA Stanford University; PhD CUNY
Research Areas: Arab world; Mediterranean; Music; Arts; Aesthetics; Migration; Food
Jonathan Shannon earned a BA in English Literature from Stanford University, with a year at Saint Catherine’s College, Oxford. He completed his PhD in cultural anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate School under the mentorship of Vincent Crapanzano, Talal Asad, and Jane Schneider. His dissertation on music in Syria, funded by research grants from SSRC and Fulbright-Hays, won the 2001 Malcolm Kerr Award for Best Dissertation in the Social Sciences from the Middle East Studies Association.
Shannon's research, scholarship, and teaching focus primarily on the Arab world and the Mediterranean, with special attention to the cultural politics of musical performance, collective memory, and transnational migration in the Middle East and North Africa and across the Mediterranean. His first book, Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria (2006), analyzes how classical Arab music performance in pre-conflict Syria was a vehicle for crafting modern sensibilities marked by affect and sentiment. His second scholarly book, Performing al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean (2015), explores the rhetorical force of the legacy of al-Andalus (medieval Iberia) and the role of musical performance in debates about cultural memory in three highly contested sites of nostalgic cultural production: Damascus, Fez, and Granada. Funded by a research awards from Fulbright and Guggenheim, the book is the first to tackle these broad questions in a comparative and circum-Mediterranean perspective. Shannon has also penned a novella, A Wintry Day in Damascus: Syrian Stories (2012), set on the eve of major social and political upheaval in the Syrian capital.
Shannon is currently conducting research on the role of music in the lived experiences of displaced Syrians in Turkey and across Europe. With grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the PSC-CUNY, he spent the last several summers in Istanbul, Athens, Milan, and Berlin exploring the lives of Syrian musicians in these important destinations for displaced Syrians. He has published some preliminary findings and is preparing a third scholarly monograph, tentatively entitled Sounding Home: Syrian Migrant Musicians from Syria to Scandinavia.