University of Southern California

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Josh Kun

Josh Kun

Josh Kun, the interim dean at the USC Thornton School of Music, is a Professor and Chair in Cross-Cultural Communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

An award-winning cultural historian, critic and curator, Kun is a 2016 MacArthur fellow and an expert on the intersection of arts, culture and politics, with an emphasis on music. Kun is an author and editor of many books and anthologies and curator of numerous art, music and public humanities projects. His research and practice focus on the arts, music and politics of cultural connection, with an emphasis on archives, global migration and Los Angeles. He has worked with the Getty FoundationSFMOMA, the Grammy Museum, the California African American Museum, the Vincent Price Museum of Art and many more. From 2013–19, he led a trilogy of projects based on the special collections of the Los Angeles Public Library that resulted in a celebrated series of books, exhibitions and public programs.

Kun’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker and more. He co-edits the book series Refiguring American Music for Duke University Press, serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and the Music Research Annual, and is on the boards of Dublab and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. He has collaborated with several musicians including Nicole Mitchell, La Santa Cecilia, Nicholas Payton and Ozomatli, and founded The Popular Music Project at the Norman Lear Center. In addition, he hosts a monthly music radio program for Artform Radio on Worldwide FM and co-curates Crossfade Lab, an event series organized by the nonprofit CALA Alliance.

Kun earned his bachelor’s degree in literature from Duke University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2018, he received the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, and in 2006, the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

Last Updated: 7/1/22