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Marissa J. Moorman

Associate Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of southern Africa. My research focuses on the intersection between politics and culture in colonial and independent Angola. My book Intonations  explores how music was a practice in and through which Angolans living under extreme political repression imagined the nation and how the particularities of music and historical moment cast this process of imagining in gendered terms. In other words, I am interested in the ways that cultural practice is productive of politics and not just derivative of it. Much of my evidence comes from interviews with musicians and consumers of music and I explore how memory, experience and pleasure shape politics and history.

I am currently working on a book project entitled Tuning in to Nation, which looks at the relationship between the technology of radio and the shifting politics of southern Africa as anti-colonial movements established independent states in the context of a region newly charged by Cold War politics.  Another project, tentatively called Kuduro in Transatlantic Translation, studies the contemporary Angolan music and dance genre, kuduro, both in Angola and as it has been adapted in Salvador de Bahia (Brazil), Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam and New York.

Honors and Awards

  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), 2010-2011
  • Fulbright Hays Faculty Research Abroad, 2010-2011
  • New Frontiers Grant in the Arts and Humanities (2007), Tuning in to Nation: Radio Technology and Politics in Angola, 1961-2002
  • Project on African Expressive Traditions (2005)
  • Dissertation Fellowship on Social Science and the Arts, Social Science Research Council (2001-02)

Research Interests

  • Popular cultural practices and politics
  • Gender, sexuality, Africa and nation


  • Ph.D. at University of Minnesota, 2004

Courses Taught

  • African Popular Culture
  • Conflict in Southern Africa
  • Politics and Culture in African History
  • Gender and Sexuality in African History


  • Intonations: a Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, 1945-Recent Times. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008 (praise for the book)
  • "Anatomy of Kuduro: Articulating the Angolan Body Politic After the War," African Studies Review 57(3), December 2014: 21-40.
  • Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep: Music and Nation in Luanda Angola
  • “Airing the Politics of Nation: Radio in Angola Past and Present,” chapter 15 in Liz Gunner, Dumisani Moyo and Dina Ligaga, eds., Radio in Africa: Publics, Cultures, Communities (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, November 2011): 238-255.
  • “Dueling Bands and Good Girls: Gender and Music in Luanda’s musseques, 1961-74,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 37(2), 2004: 255-88.
  • “Putting on a pano and Dancing Like Our Grandparents: Dress and Nation in Late Colonial Luanda,” in Jean Allman, ed., Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 84-103.
  • “Of Westerns, Women and War: Resituating Angolan Cinema and the Nation,” Research in African Literature 32(3), Fall 2001: 103-22.

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