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headshot of James  M Salinas Burns

James M Salinas Burns

Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology; Associate Professor

Music; Africana Studies


James Burns is an associate professor of music and Africana studies. Burns joined the Binghamton faculty in 2005, having previously lectured in African music and culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and in African drumming at Goldsmiths College. He is also a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology. As an active ethnographic researcher, he has conducted over eight years of ongoing fieldwork in Ghana, Togo, and Benin with Ewe-Fon, Akan, and Dagbamba (Dagomba) ethnic groups funded by grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (U.K.) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (U.S.). Important publications from this research include the books Female Voices from an Ewe Dance-drumming Community in Ghana (Ashgate 2009), which was awarded honorable mention for the J.K. Nketia African music prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology (2010), and The Beard Cannot Tell Stories to the Eyelash: Creative Transformation in an Ewe Funeral Dance-Drumming Tradition (forthcoming); in addition to the journal articles, "Rhythmic Archetypes in Instrumental Music from Africa and the Diaspora" (Music Theory Online vol. 16/4, 2010), and "Doing it with style: an ethnopoetic study of improvisation in Ewe dance-drumming," (African Music vol. 9/1, 2011). Apart from these written publications, Burns has also produced several audio-visual recordings of Ewe music including the highly regarded audio CD Ewe Drumming from Ghana: The Soup Which Is Sweet Draws the Chairs in Closer (2005 British Library/Topic Records), and music videos for the Dzigbordi and Dunenyo performing groups from the Volta Region of Ghana. Professor Burns is also a teacher and performer of traditional music from the African diaspora and directs the Nukporfe African Dance-Drumming Ensemble at Binghamton.


  • PhD, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
  • BA, University of Texas at Austin

Research Interests

  • Ethnomusicology
  • Africana Studies
  • Cultural Anthropology

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