Anthony Rasmussen
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Recording among the trajineras (shallow-draft boats) of Xochimilco.
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Taking a breather while documenting día de muertos, Coyoacán.

Anthony (Tony) Rasmussen was awarded the UC MEXUS-CONACYT Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2017. He specializes in urban sound studies and his current postdoctoral project explores the whistle practices of the Iztapalapa borough of Mexico City. In this urban setting, whistles are deployed to announce the presence of individuals, to warn unwelcomed intruders, and to exchange complex ideas by replicating the melodies and rhythms of spoken phrases. While a handful of linguists have examined the whistle practices of rural Mexico, few studies exist concerning whistle practices in urban centers nor the aesthetic, emotive, or symbolic dimensions of these sonorous artifacts of expressive culture. Dr. Rasmussen’s methodology consists of spectral and semiotic analyses of whistles focusing on their harmonic relation to spoken phrases, juxtaposed with interlocutors’ emic evaluations of their symbolic and contextual meaning. He is hosted by la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) under the supervision of Dr. Lizette Alegre González, professor of ethnomusicology at UNAM and specialist in Peircean semiotics, and Dr. Ana Lidia Domínguez Ruiz, one of Mexico’s leading sound studies scholars and professor of psychology at Universidad Pedagogica Nacional.

Prior to his postdoctoral appointment, Dr. Rasmussen was awarded the UC MEXUS Dissertation Research Grant in 2015, leading the completion of his dissertation, “Resistance Resounds: Hearing Power in Mexico City.” Since that time, he has presented his research at regional and national conferences, both in Mexico and the United States, and produced an audiovisual installation, “El Caracol: A Stroll through Space and Time in Mexico City,” using material gathered in the field. This installation premiered at the 1st Sounding Board Exhibition of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2015 and was reviewed in the journal Ethnomusicology (Galloway, Kate. 2016. “Sounding Board,” 60 [3]: 540–543). Recently, Dr. Rasmussen was awarded the Society for Ethnomusicology Latin American and Caribbean Section Student Paper Prize for his paper, “Pregones Perdidos: Sales and Survival in within the Contested Acoustic Territories of Mexico City’s Historic Center.”

For additional information, Dr. Rasmussen can be reached at arasm003@ucr.edu.

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Talking whistles with a book vender in Tláhuac.