Director, UCR Latin American Studies Program
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Phone: (951) 827-6097
Office: Arts 139
Jonathan Ritter is an ethnomusicologist whose research focuses on the indigenous and Afro-Hispanic musical cultures of Andean South America. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA, and his B.A. in American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota. At UCR, he teaches numerous courses on Native American, Latin American, and other musical traditions, and is the director of Mayupatapi, the UCR Andean Music Ensemble.
Prof. Ritter’s work, as both a scholar and a teacher, addresses broad questions of how musical expressions are implicated in the work of cultural memory and political activism, particularly during times of political violence. His book, We Bear Witness With Our Song: The Politics of Music and Violence in the Peruvian Andes (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) explores these themes as they emerged within the traditional and folkloric music of Ayacucho, Peru, in the context of the Shining Path guerrilla insurrection and ensuing conflict that took place in that country. Together with J. Martin Daughtry, he is also co-editor of Music in the Post-9/11 World (Routledge, 2007), a collection of essays by ethnomusicologists and other music scholars exploring both domestic and international musical responses to the attacks of September 11th, 2001, as well as the myriad ways that ensuing political and military actions have changed the very circumstances in which musicians create and perform today all over the world.
Ritter’s scholarship on Andean, Afro-Ecuadorian, and Native American musics has appeared in numerous academic journals, edited collections, and encyclopedias. He currently serves on the editorial board of the interdisciplinary journal Latin American Perspectives, and as a Contributing Editor for the Handbook of Latin American Studies. Beyond music scholarship, he is also the author of a short monograph, A Work in Progress: Autonomy on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast (Institute for International Cooperation and Development, 1995), which analyzes the political and cultural challenges that faced Nicaragua’s indigenous Miskito population in the wake of the war that devastated the region in the 1980s.
Ritter is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including research funding from the California Center for the Humanities, the Fulbright Institute for International Education, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. His scholarly work has been honored with the Charles Seeger and Richard Waterman Prizes by the Society for Ethnomusicology, and in 2012, his article “Chocolate, Coconut, and Honey: Race, Music, and the Politics of Hybridity in the Ecuadorian Black Pacific” was awarded the R. Serge Denisoff Prize by the journal Popular Music and Society.
Prior to his appointment at UCR, Ritter taught courses in ethnomusicology at Soka University of America and Chapman College, and from 2002-2004 was the founder and director of a multidisciplinary performance series, Fowler Out Loud!, at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. In the fall of 2012, he also taught as a Visiting Professor at the Escuela Nacional de Música at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, in Mexico City.