Josh Kun appointed director of School of Communication

USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay has appointed Josh Kun, a renowned scholar, leading cultural historian and 2016 MacArthur Fellow, as director of the USC Annenberg School of Communication.

Professor Kun’s appointment as director of the School of Communication is effective July 1, 2018. He was recently named the inaugural holder of the Chair in Cross-Cultural Communication to advance the ways music and popular culture can serve as conduits for cross-cultural exchange. Kun is acclaimed for bridging his scholarship as a cultural historian with the curation of exhibitions, installations, and public humanities projects with organizations as diverse as the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the California African American Museum and the Grammy Museum.

“Professor Kun is a globally recognized, interdisciplinary scholar who exemplifies the intellectual rigor and breadth of our School of Communication,” Bay said. “I look forward to working closely with Josh to strengthen the school’s reputation for excellence through its portfolio of groundbreaking research, innovative curriculum, and commitment to creating new opportunities for conversation, dialogue and debate.” 

The author and editor of 10 books, Kun has led collaborations with the Los Angeles Public Library to bring their ancient sheet music to life through performances, new recordings and new writings as well as with The Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative to explore the musical networks that move between L.A. and various Latin American communities and cultures. 

“My appointment reflects the open-minded, flexible and experimental thinking that has come to characterize the work of USC Annenberg’s faculty, staff and students,” Kun said. “I look forward to ensuring that our school leads the way in shaping contemporary scholarship and public debates and impacting future outcomes through the leadership and vision of our students.”

As a Bosch Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin this spring, Kun has extended his research on music and immigration in the U.S. to contemporary Europe, the Middle East and Africa. His forthcoming book will focus on the role of music in responding to mass forced migrations, displacements and struggles for freedom of movement in the 21st century.

Kun is director of The Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg’s The Norman Lear Center and co-editor (with Ron Radano and Nina Sun Eidsheim) of the influential interdisciplinary book series Refiguring American Music for Duke University Press. He serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Communication, Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Journal of Popular Music Studies, and Public Culture. Prior to joining USC Annenberg in 2006, Kun was associate professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. 

He holds a Ph.D. in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a joint appointment in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Department of American Studies and Ethnicity.

Kun said he sees USC Annenberg as a dynamic school of teachers, researchers, students, administrators and program directors who all work across multiple intersections of thought, method and practice. 

“Our strength lies in our collective commitments to rigorous inquiry, teaching and intellectual community-building, directed at some of the most difficult problems facing contemporary society,” he added. “Los Angeles is a vibrant crossroads of precarity and promise, pushing us to ground our work in local worlds that have global footprints.”