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Anne Rasmussen

Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology, Bickers Professor of Middle Eastern Studies

Director, W&M Middle Eastern Music Ensemble:
Office: Music Arts Center, room 203
Phone: 757-784-4341 (mobile)
Email: [[akrasm]]
Website: {{}}

Education and Curriculum Vitae
  • B.A., Northwestern University
  • M.A., University of Denver
  • Ph.D. in Music, University of California-Los Angeles
  • Anne also studied for two years at the Sorbonne in Paris and received her formative musical training at the New England Conservatory.
  • Curriculum Vitae

Anne K. Rasmussen is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Bickers Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the College of William & Mary where she is founder and director the William & Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, established in 1994. Her publications encompass music of the Middle East and Islamicate worlds, with a focus on Indonesia and the Arabian Peninsula, and music and community in a multicultural United States. Recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships for research in Indonesia, a Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center Fellowship for research in Oman, and a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, her award-winning publications include numerous articles and chapters, and four books: Women’s Voices, the Recited Qur’an, and Islamic Music in Indonesia, (U California Press 2010; Indonesian-language, Mizan 2019); Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia, co-edited with David Harnish (Oxford UP 2011); The Music of Multicultural America: Performance, Community, and Identity in the USA, co-edited with Kip Lornell. (Schirmer 1997; UP Mississippi 2016) and Music of Arabia, co-edited with Issa Boulos and Virginia Danielson (Indiana UP 2021). Past president of the Society for Ethnomusicology (2015-2017), Rasmussen has several projects underway including a new book under contract with the University of California Press and a guest professorship at the University of the Sorbonne, in Paris, Spring, 2024.

Time at William & Mary

Anne K. Rasmussen joined the faculty of William & Mary in 1993. She is professor of music and ethnomusicology and in 2014 was named the William M. and Annie B. Bickers Professor of Middle Eastern Studies. She was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honors society in 2014 and has served as Vice President of the PBK Alpha Chapter, (the highest presiding officer on campus). She received the Plumeri award for faculty excellence and has been awarded numerous grants from William & Mary for her teaching and scholarship. She delivered the Tack Faculty Lecture "Women Out Loud: The Gendered Landscape of Islamic Performance" in Fall 2018.

In addition to serving as the Department Chair of Music at William & Mary, Professor Rasmussen has repeatedly been elected to the board of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), the largest international organization for her discipline, and served as SEM President from 2015-2017. In anticipation of William & Mary’s new Arts Quarter, opened in Fall 2023, Rasmussen co-chaired the Arts Quarter Working Group which brought together colleagues from Music, Theater & Dance, Art & Art History, Film, and Creative Writing, to identify priorities and advise the administration on the Arts at William & Mary.

THE W&M MEME: Since 1994 Anne Rasmussen has directed the William & Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, a forum for the study and performance of music and with musicians from the Middle East and Arab world. Over the years, the ensemble has hosted more than seventy-five guest artists, has made two compact disc recordings, and has undertaken concert tours in Morocco and Oman. The ensemble meets Thursday evenings from 7-9:20 and is open to students, faculty, and community members.

INTERDISCIPLINARY GLOBAL STUDIES: Anne Rasmussen serves as core faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies (AMES) at William & Mary and has directed that program on an off for several years. She is also core faculty in the Asian & Pacific Islander American Program (APIA), and is affiliated with the interdisciplinary program Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

W&M WASHINGTON CENTER: In Spring Semesters of 2019 and 2007, and during the Winter term of 2021, Rasmussen was professor for the William & Mary in Washington Program where students pursued a multidiciplinary study of "Washington and the Arts."

Books to Date

Women, the Recited Qur’an, and Islamic Music in Indonesia, (University of California Press 2010)

*Received the Alan Merriam Prize Honorable Mention for 2011.

Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia(Oxford University Press 2011) Co-edited with David Harnish.

The Music of Multicultural America: Performance, Identity, and Community in the United States (University Press of Mississippi, 2nd revised Edition 1997) Co-editor with Kip Lornell.

Music in Arabia: Perspectives on Heritage, Mobility, and Nation (Indiana University Press 2021) Co-edited with Issa Boulos and Virginia Danielson

Articles, Chapters, Reviews, and Recordings

Please see the curriculum vitae linked above for the sources of more than 30 chapters and articles along with reviews, CD recordings and other published work. You may also access many of Anne K. Rasmussen’s publications through her William & Mary “Scholar Works” site.

Blending Research, Teaching, and Performance

During her sabbatical leave (2010-2011) Rasmussen pursued new research in the Persian Gulf Nation of Oman supported by a fellowship from the Omani Government and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. She served as guest editor for a special issue of the journal The World of Music: New Series titled “Music in Oman: Politics, Identity, Time and Space in the Sultanate,” and has visited that Gulf nation and its neighbor nations for fieldwork and conferences on several occasions since 2010.  In January 2014 Rasmussen, along with her William and Mary colleague, geologist Chuck Baily, led a study tour to Oman to learn about the the country’s fascinating nature and culture.  Dubbed “Rock, Music, Oman,” you can read about that study-tour in the cover story of World Minded, the magazine of the William and Mary Reves Center for International Studies.

During the January-June, 2017 Anne Rasmussen returned to Indonesia to pursue new research in Indonesia supported by a Fulbright US Scholar Fellowship. While in Indonesia she has given numerous academic and musical performances, many of which can be found by searching her name in YouTube.

Course Offerings

Anne Rasmussen teaches a family of courses in ethnomusicology and music research at William & Mary and has mentored numerous students William & Mary toward graduate study in ethnomusicology and careers in music and academia. 

Her course offerings, many of them cross-listed in Anthropology, AMES, APIA, and/or GSWS, include:

  • 241 Worlds of Music
  • 372 Music Cultures of the Middle East
  • 367 Mediterranean Musical Mosaic
  • 345 Seminar in Music Research: Orientalism, Exoticism, and Music
  • 345 Seminar in Music Research: Music and Nationalism

  • 150W Freshman Seminar: World Music and World Religion
  • 150 Freshman Seminar: American Soundscapes -- Music and Multiculturalism

  • 150 Freshman Seminar with the Sharpe Program for Community Engagement: American Soundscapes – Music, Migration and Resettlement
  • E 18 Middle Eastern Music Ensemble
  • AMES 250: Critical Issues in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
The William & Mary Middle Eastern Ensemble

Founded in 1994, the W&M MEME, has become an important part of the department, the program in Asian and Middle East Studies and the campus community.  The ensemble hosts numerous guest artists from various Middle Eastern musical and cultural traditions and performs in contexts that range from schools to academic conferences, and arts festivals to formal concerts. With the collaboration of Jonathan Glasser, Associate Professor of Anthropology at W&M, the ensemble has traveled extensively in the mid-Atlantic region and has toured and performed in Oman (2014) and Morocco (2014, 2015). The ensemble has recorded two compact disc recordings.

Instrumentation in the ensemble includes ‘Ud (Middle Eastern Lute), Violin, Viola, and Bass, Qanun (zither), Darabukkah, Riqq, and Daff (percussion instruments), Nay (reed flute), sometimes accordion and saxophone, and singing in the major languages of the Middle East region: Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Hebrew, and Ladino. The ensemble has released two CD recordings.  You may learn more about them by visiting our website.

Visit the Ensemble website.

W&M Students and the Field of Ethnomusicology
Many students who are introduced to the field of ethnomusicology through Rasmussen's courses, academic conferences, and invited guests to the college, and the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble have pursed advanced degrees in ethnomusicology graduate programs at various institutions including Indiana University (4 students), Brown University, The University of Texas at Austin, New York University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Limerick, Ireland, the University of Hawai'i and Wesleyan University. Rasmussen is the first person from an undergraduate liberal arts institution to be elected president of the Society for Ethnomusicology and is a strong advocate and exemplar for undergraduate ethnomusicology among her professional cohort. William & Mary’s ethnomusicology faculty is more robust than that of many graduate programs. Professors Max Katz, Michael Iyanaga, and Jonathan Glasser (Anthropology) all offer courses related to the discipline.
William & Mary in Washington D.C.

In spring semesters of 2007 and 2019, and during the 2021 Winter Break, Rasmussen served as the professor for William & Mary in Washington, D.C.. “Washington and the Arts” explores issues of arts patronage, policy, programming, production, education, artists, audiences, contexts, histories, communities, and individuals through visiting some of Washington’s important institutions of arts and culture and exposure to leading figures in the Washington arts world. The participating W&M students pursued internships at National Gallery of Art, Red Dirt Sculpture Studios, the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Co., National Portrait Gallery, National Public Radio: All Things Considered News Program, Slate Magazine, Center for American Progress, National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Washington Choral Arts Society, Worldwatch Institute, Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Wooly Mammoth Theater, the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the Japan Foundation, the White House, and the 9:30 Club. Among their many projects, Rasmussen and her students designed and produced the Symposium: Washington Women and the Arts, in concert with a year of programming celebrating 100 years of Women at William & Mary.