University of South Florida

School of Music

USF College of The Arts

Bertie Kibreah

Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Phone: (813) 974-2311
Office: MUS 365

Bertie Kibreah headshot image

Bertie Kibreah joined USF’s Music Faculty in 2022. He is an ethnomusicologist and South Asianist (PhD, University of Chicago), with interests in re-sounding the greater region of Bengal—an enduring focal point in South Asia—to be more inclusive of sonic histories and contemporary music life in Bangladesh, the Bay of Bengal, and the “Banglashere.” Bertie’s research is shaped by discourses of devotion, modernity, and migration—especially through the performative lens of pilgrimage, cultural industries, Sufi feminisms, and borderland musicking. He frequently draw on theories of difference (memory, partition, genocide studies), interconnectivity (Inter-Asian, Indian Ocean, Adivasi, and Asian American studies) as well as orality-aurality (sound studies, affect studies, the anthropology of media).

Bertie’s current book project explores and complicates trajectories of devotion through sonic geographies of the Bengal river delta, the musical placemaking of shrines, and the collectivized impressions of folk festivals within, between, and beyond Bengals (including adjacent Bengali pluralities). A second book project of his is concerned with intergenerational timbres and devotional memory in the larger realm of Bangladeshi global citizenries, as refracted by recent labor reforms in the Arab Gulf, newer migration routes into Europe via the Mediterranean, and the often overlooked “ethnoburbs” of Bangladeshi Americans.

Trained on the tabla, a prominent percussion instrument in South Asia, Bertie also sings in a variety of languages and performs on a number of additional instruments—especially from Bengal—including the dotara lute. The breath of his musical explorations—across linguistic and sonic borders—is fueled by the civic awareness of public humanities work and the artistic interactions of practitioners and communities. 

Bertie is the recipient of a number of awards, most recently a research grant from USF College of the Arts, as well as the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Research Award administered through the Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley. Bertie is also incoming vice president for the Southeast/Caribbean chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology.