Ryan Skinner is musical anthropologist who studies popular expressive cultures of contemporary Africa and its European and American diasporas. Specializing in the analytic methods of cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology, his research focuses on issues of popular urbanism, ethics, aesthetics, public piety, cultural politics, intellectual property, and new social movements in the African world. Skinner’s work has appeared in the journals Anthropological Quarterly, Africa, Popular Music, IASPM@Journal, Mande Studies, Research in African Literatures, The Journal of American Folklore, and African Arts. He is the author of Bamako Sounds: The Afropolitan Ethics of Malian Music (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), an ethnographic study of the popular music and culture of Bamako, Mali.
Skinner’s current research examines modes of expression, identification, and political engagement within an emergent Afro-Swedish community. Rooted in contemporary Sweden and routed throughout Africa and its diasporas, Afro-Swedes are part of a growing African and diasporic presence in contemporary Europe, the product of multiple patterns of tourism, travel, adoption, migration, refuge, and asylum over the past six decades. Through ethnographic inquiry, textual analysis, and historical study, this work explores understandings and expressions of Afro-Swedish identity in music, dance, theater, film, and verbal art. This research has been supported by grants from the Ohio State University, American Swedish Institute, and the American Scandinavian Association, and an ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship.
Skinner is also the author and illustrator of the award-winning children's book, Sidikiba's Kora Lesson (Beaver's Pond Press, 2008) and is an accomplished kora (21-stringed West African harp) player.