Ian MacMillen received his PhD in Anthropology of Music (Ethnomusicology) from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. He holds a B.A. in music theory from Pomona College (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and has held research associateships at the University of Pittsburgh and the Institut za Etnologiju i Folkloristiku u Zagrebu. Prior to joining the Yale Department of Music, he was a postdoctoral fellow in Oberlin College’s Russian & East European Studies program, a visiting assistant professor at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and then Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Whitman College, before returning to Oberlin to serve as director of the Center for Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies (2016-2019).
MacMillen’s research examines intersections of the sonic and affective materialities of musical performance with discourses on violence, trauma, and reconciliation, primarily in former Ottoman Europe. His book, Playing It Dangerously: Tambura Bands, Race, and Affective Block in Croatia and Its Intimates (Wesleyan University Press, 2019), focuses on the tambura - a chordophone that arrived in the region with Turkish forces - and on popular and traditional tambura stringband music’s role in recent decades as a mediator of interethnic relations in the former war zones of Yugoslavia, its successor states, and its diasporas. Based upon several years of fieldwork in Southeast Europe, it questions what happens when feelings attached to music conflict with expressions of dominant religious and socio-cultural orders, and how this tension enters into the politics of popular culture at various spatial and significatory levels of human interaction.