Dr Anja Brunner, ethnomusicologist

I am an ethnomusicologist based at the Music and Minorities Research Center and at the Department of Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (Austria), where I direct the research project on women* musicians from Syria that is presented on these pages. The project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (Elise Richter Program, Project number V706-G29). In October 2022, I start a tenured post-doc position at the Department for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology. Starting in March 2023, I will co-direct together with Dr Cornelia Gruber the research project “Reverse Ethnomusicology: Migrants as Researchers”, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (1000-ideas-program, TAI724).

My research passion circles around issues of music and belonging/s, music and individual and collective identities, questions of music and migration/mobility, and music and minorities. I hereby position myself within traditions of critical research along intersectionality, gender studies, postcolonial studies and the quest for decolonization and diversity in research and academia. 

I understand my work as researcher as decidedly political in that it enables insight to human actions around music and thereby provides the foundations to intercultural communication. My research is done to make the world a more equal, fairer place – for everyone. My work addresses and analyses cultural and musical differences in order to understand processes of differentiation, and possibly overcome connected and power relations. 

I gained a doctorate in musicology from the University of Vienna (Austria) with a dissertation on the Cameroonian popular music bikutsi. The work has recently been published as a monograph at Equinox. I have been working as a university lecturer and researcher at the University of Vienna (Austria, 2010–2015) and the University of Bern (Switzerland, 2016–2018), and was researcher in the project “Crossover Fads – Balkan Music in Austria” (2009–2011, funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF). 

A full list of publications and presentations can be found on my ORCID page and on Google Scholar.


Brunner, Anja (2022): „Popular Music, Forced Migration, and the Welcome Culture in Germany and Austria“. In Transformational Pop, edited by Christoph Jacke, Beate Flath and Manuel Troike (~Vibes – The IASPM D-A-CH Series 2). Peer-reviewed. LINK

Brunner, Anja (in print, 2022): „On the Need to Overcome Westernization and the Idea of Western Music: Towards a Post-Western Musical Scholarship.“ In Branding ‚Western Music‘, edited by María Carceres, Alberto Napoli and Melanie Strumbl. Peter Lang Verlag. 

Brunner, Anja (2021): Bikutsi. A Beti Dance Music on the Rise, 1970–1990. Sheffield: Equinox. (Transcultural Music Studies). https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/bikutsi/

Brunner, Anja and Hannes Liechti (2021): „Pop–Power–Positions. Engaging with the (Post)Colonial in Popular Music Studies. An Introduction.“ In Pop–Power–Positions. Globale Beziehungen und Populäre Musik, edited by Anja Brunner and Hannes Liechti. Online: http://vibes-theseries.org/ (~Vibes – The IASPM D-A-CH Series 1)

Brunner, Anja (2021): „Manu Dibango 1933–2020“. In: Rock Music Studies 8/1, 87–91. LINK

Brunner, Anja (2019): „Bikutsi.“ In Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Popular Music of the World. Volume XII: Genres: Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by Heidi Carolyn Feldman, David Horn, John Shepherd and Gabrielle Kielich. New York et al.: Bloomsbury Academic, 76–78.

Brunner, Anja (2018): „Afrikanische Musik in transnationalen Netzwerken. Überlegungen zur Erforschung der Musikpraxis von Musikerinnen und Musikern aus Afrika in Europa.“ In Musik und Migration, edited by Wolfgang Gratzer and Nils Grosch. Münster: Waxmann, 111–124. 

Brunner, Anja (2017): „Popular Music and the Young Postcolonial State of Cameroon, 1960–1980“. In Popular Music and Society 40/1, 37–48. LINK (also in Lovesey, Oliver: Popular Music and the Postcolonial. London, New York: Routledge 2018)

Gebesmair, Andreas, Anja Brunner and Regina Sperlich (2014): Balkanboom. Eine Geschichte der Balkanmusik in Österreich. Frankfurt et al.: Peter Lang Verlag. (Musik und Gesellschaft 34) 

Brunner, Anja (2013): „The singer Anne-Marie Nzié and the song ‚Liberté‘. On Popular Music and the Postcolonial State in Cameroon“. In African Music 9, 40–58.

Brunner, Anja (2010): Die Anfänge des Mbalax. Zur Entstehung einer senegalesischen Popularmusik. Wien: Institut für Musikwissenschaft. (Vienna Series in Ethnomusicology 4) Full text here