Collegiate Affiliation

Elliott H. Powell is Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of American Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is an interdisciplinary scholar of US popular music, race, sexuality, and politics. And he received his PhD in American Studies from New York University and BA in History from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, he was a postdoctoral fellow and faculty associate at the Frederick Douglas Institute for African and African-American Studies and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Rochester, respectively. Elliott has been the recipient of several national fellowships and awards from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Musicological Society, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

His first book Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music (University of Minnesota Press,  2020), brings together critical race, feminist, and queer theories to consider the political implications of African American and South Asian collaborative music-making practices in US-based Black Popular Music since the 1960s. In particular, the project investigates these cross-cultural exchanges in relation to larger global and domestic sociohistorical junctures that linked African American and South Asian diasporic communities, and argues that these Afro-South Asian cultural productions constitute dynamic, complex, and at times contradictory sites of comparative racialization, transformative gender and queer politics, and anti-imperial political alliances. Sounds from the Other Side was award the Woody Guthrie Best Book Award from the US Branch of the International Association for Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US) as well as the Phillip Brett Book Award from the LGBTQ Study Group of the American Musicological Society.

He is also at work on two other book projects. The first is tentatively titled Prince, Porn, and Public Sex, which explores the politics of sex(uality) and music in Minneapolis during the 1980s. And the second is tentatively titled Illegitimate Sounds, which explores the queer potentiality of recordings like demos that do not conform to commercial audio legibility. Writings from these research areas are published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Amerasia Journal, GLQ, ASAP/Journal, The Routledge History of American Sexuality, The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Studies, The Jazz Research Journal, and The Black Scholar (where he co-edited TBS' first queer and/or trans special issue).

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • PhD: American Studies, New York University
  • BA: History, University of Chicago


  • American popular music and culture
  • Comparative race and ethnic studies
  • Feminist and queer studies
  • Afro-Asian studies
  • Black cultural studies
  • Afro-diasporic popular music
  • Inter-/cross-cultural music making
  • Sound studies