Elliott H Powell

I am an interdisciplinary scholar of U.S. popular music, race, sexuality, and politics. I received my Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University, and my B.A. in History from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, I 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. I have been the recipient of several national fellowships and awards from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. And my work has also been recognized by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. My work is primarily concerned with African American and South Asian (American) intercultural music-making endeavors during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the ways in which these music-centered collaborative efforts articulate with larger socio-political formations and the complex and historically situated processes of identity formation. I am currently at work on a book manuscript, The Other Side of Things: African American and South Asian Collaborative Sounds in Black Popular Music (under contract with University of Minnesota Press), which brings together critical race, feminist, and queer theories to consider the political implications of African American and South Asian collaborative music-making practices in jazz during the 1960s and 1970s and hip hop since the 1980s. 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. I'm 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 GLQ, philoSOPHIA: A Journal of Continental Feminism, The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Studies, The Jazz Research Journal, and The Black Scholar (where I co-edited TBS' first queer and/or trans special issue).

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: American Studies, New York University.
  • B.A.: History, University of Chicago.


  • American popular music and culture
  • Critical race theory and Comparative ethnic studies
  • Feminist and Queer studies
  • African American and Asian American Studies
  • Music and Politics
  • Music and globalization
  • Jazz
  • Hip Hop
  • Sound studies
Courses Taught
  • AMST 3252W: American Popular Culture and Politics: 1900 to 1940
  • AMST 1905: Freshman Seminar (Americans Abroad: Rethinking Travel, Culture, and Empire)
  • AMST 3253W: American Popular Culture and Politics: 1940-Present
  • AMST 8920: Queer Temporalities: Pleasure, Ghosting, and the Politics of Queer Time
  • HSEM 2006H: Prince, Porn, and Public Space: The Cultural Politics of Minnesota in the '80s
  • AMST 8920: Black Cultural Studies
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Co-Chair, Diversity Committee, International Association for the Study of Popular Music (US): 2016 - Present
  • Co-Vice President of the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association: 2016 - Present
  • Advisory Board, Le Conseil International pour Hip Hop et Recherche : Hip Hop in the South Asian Diaspora , 2018 - Present
  • "Addict(ive) Sex Toward an Intersectional Approach to Truth Hurts’ 'Addictive' and Afro-South Asian Hip Hop and R&B": Powell, Elliott, Routledge, Popular Music and the Politics of Hope Queer and Feminist Interventions, 173-185, 2019. Link
  • "Introduction: An ImPossibility: Black Queer and Trans* Aesthetics": Powell, Elliott, Shanté Paradigm Smalls, The Black Scholar, 49 1-5, 2019. Link
  • "Unmastered: The Queer Black Aesthetics of Unfinished Recordings": Powell, Elliott, The Black Scholar, 49 28-39, 2019. Link
  • "Coalitional Auralities: Notes on a Soundtrack to Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens": Powell, Elliott, GLQ, 25 188-193, 2019. Link
  • "‘Staying Golden’: The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Jazz in The Golden Girls": Powell, Elliott, Jazz Research Journal, 12 86-109, 2018. Link
  • "The Ghosts Got You: Exploring the Queer (After) Lives of Sample-Based Hip Hop": Powell, Elliott, Oxford University Press, The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Music, 2018. Link
  • "Funking Our Way to Freedom": Powell, Elliott, GLQ, 24 387-390, 2018. Link
  • "Resilience and Melancholy: Pop Music, Feminism, Neoliberalism" (Review): Powell, Elliott, philoSOPHIA, 7 179-185, 2017. Link
  • "Doing Drag with the Cockettes": Powell, Elliott, 2015, Walker Art Center. Link
  • Frederick Douglass Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2013 - 2014
  • Social Science Research Council Dissertation Grant, 2013
  • Northeast Consortium for Faculty Diversity Dissertation Fellowship, 2012 - 2013
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, Fall 2016
  • University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Award, 2016 - 2017
  • Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2016 - 2017
  • Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, Fall 2017
  • IDEA Multicultural Research Award, University of Minnesota, 2017 - 2018
  • University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Award, 2017 - 2018
  • Global Programs & Strategy Alliance, International Travel Award, 2019