James McNally is an ethnomusicologist specializing in the music of Brazil. He teaches classes in the Departments of Theatre and Music and Latin American and Latino Studies. He received his PhD and M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan and his B.A. in Music from Amherst College. Before his PhD, he worked for five years as a public school music teacher in New York City. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the UIC School of Theatre & Music.
McNally’s research engages with a range of fields, including sound studies, critical improvisation studies, cultural politics, social network analysis, media studies, and the digital humanities. His book, São Paulo Underground: Creativity, Cultural Politics, and Experimentalism in Brazil (under contract with Oxford University Press), investigates collaborative creative communities and experimental music in the context of contemporary Brazilian cultural politics. He has published articles in Ethnomusicology, Popular Music and Society, Journal of the Society for American Music, and Twentieth-Century Music. His work has received support from the Fulbright Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is also the former assistant editor of the University of Michigan Press journal Music & Politics. In addition to his research, he draws from performance experience as an improvising musician in electronic and experimental music circuits and a multi-instrumentalist in Brazilian samba and Javanese gamelan ensembles.