Christopher Waterman


Department: World Arts & Cultures/Dance
Department of World Arts & Cultures
11000 Kinross Avenue
Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1608
Phone: (310)825-3951

Keywords: Africa, Dance, Art, Religion, African popular cultures, Music, Cultural anthropology, African Diaspora

Chris Waterman, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, is an anthropologist and musician who specializes in the study of music and culture in Africa and the Americas. He joined UCLA in 1996 as a professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures, becoming chair of the department in 1997, and was appointed Dean in 2003. He has conducted extensive field research among the Yoruba people of Nigeria, and is the author of “Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music” (University of Chicago Press, 1990), co-author of the textbooks “American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3” (Oxford University Press, 2009) and “Rock: Music, Culture and Business” (Oxford University Press, in press), and guest editor of the volume “Cultural Expression, Creativity and Innovation,” in Sage Publications’s Cultures and Globalization Series (2010).

Waterman’s scholarly work has been recognized with Fulbright and Social Science Research Council fellowships, a post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities, and awards such as The Ethel Curry Distinguished Lectureship in Musicology from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), the Class of 1960 Professorship at Williams College, and the Robert Trotter Lectureship, awarded by the College Music Society. In 2008 Waterman was selected as keynote speaker for the Third International Symposium on the Music of Africa at Princeton University.

In his capacity as a bassist, Waterman has performed with such artists as Zoot Sims, Larry Coryell, Don Lanphere, Julian Priester, Jim Knapp, Buddy Emmons, the Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey orchestras, and I.K. Dairo (M.B.E.) and His Blue Spots. His innovative course on world popular music was cited as “a music class worth taking” by Rolling Stone magazine in 1992.

Prior to joining UCLA, Waterman served on the visiting faculties of Bowdoin College and the University of Oslo, and was associate professor of music at the University of Washington, where he served as head of the ethnomusicology program and chair of the African studies committee. He received the Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Bachelor of Music degree in composition and electric bass from Berklee College of Music, and studied African languages and cultures at Yale University (1979) and the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1980-82).