MacArthur Fellows Program

Steven Feld

Anthropologist and Ethnomusicologist | Class of 1991

Anthropologist and Ethnomusicologist
Austin, Texas
42 at time of award
Published July 1, 1991

About Steven's Work

Steven Feld is an anthropologist and an ethnomusicologist whose work incorporates linguistics, acoustics, ecology, and ornithology to achieve an anthropology of sound.

Feld’s ethnographic research, begun in 1976, involves the Kaluli people of Bosavi, Papua New Guinea, and has resulted in a book, Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics and Song in Kaluli Expression (1982; 2nd ed., 1990).  He has produced a soundscape recording, Voices of the Rainforest (1991), which portrays the relationship between the sounds of the rain forest and human song.  He has established the Bosavi People’s Fund, a nonprofit organization to assist the Kaluli to maintain the integrity of their culture and environment.  Feld’s more general work on music, culture, and politics is collected in Music Grooves (co-authored with Charles Keil, 1994).  He is working on a multi-CD project on the worldwide history and culture of bells.


Feld has been a professor of anthropology and music at the University of New Mexico since 2003.  He previously held appointments at Columbia University, New York University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Feld received a B.A. (1971) from Hofstra University and a Ph.D. (1979) from Indiana University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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