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Marina Peterson

Associate Professor of Performance Studies

31 South Court Street
(740) 593-1314

Marina Peterson

Associate Professor of Performance Studies

An anthropologist, Marina Peterson’s work explores multi-scalar formations of urban space through sensory, sonic, and embodied processes ranging from performance and planning to labor and law. She has conducted ethnographic research in Los Angeles, Singapore, and Appalachian Ohio.


Her first book, Sound, Space, and the City: Civic Performance in Downtown Los Angeles, examines the nature of contemporary civic life through an ethnography of a free public concert series in a downtown corporate plaza. It draws on multifaceted ethnographic and archival research to consider how a multicultural city is produced and naturalized through the built environment of privatized public space; ethnic neighborhood spaces; media and mobility; affective, embodied experiences of audience members; and performances of local and international artists.


She is also the co-editor of Global Downtowns (with Gary McDonogh, UPenn Press 2012) and a special issue of Journal of Popular Music Studies on “Audio Work: Labor, Value, and the Making of Musical Aesthetics” (with Jesse Shipley, 2012). She is editing two forthcoming books with Gretchen Bakke, Anthropology of Arts: A Reader (Bloomsbury 2016) and Between Matter and Method: Anthropology and the Arts (Bloomsbury 2017). Articles have appeared in Anthropological Quarterly, O-Zone: A Journal of Object-Oriented Studies, South Atlantic Quarterly, Space and Culture, Journal of Popular Music Studies, and Urban Anthropology


She is currently working on two book projects. Atmospheric: Noise, Infrastructure, and Indefinite Urbanism addresses the significance of noise in shaping postwar atmospheric sensibilities as played out across airspace territory and law, techno-rational regimes, environmentalism, affective and corporeal registers, arts, and urban infrastructures. Performing Citizenship: A History of Los Angeles Poverty Department is a monograph of LAPD’s work from 1985 to the present, written in collaboration with John Malpede, its founder and director.


A University of Pennsylvania IUR (Institute for Urban Research) Scholar, Peterson is the recipient of a Huntington Library Research Fellowship, a Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship, a Haynes/HSSC Summer Research Stipend, and multiple research awards from Ohio University and the College of Fine Arts. She was a participant in the NEH Summer Institute, “Mapping and Art in the Americas” at the Newberry Library in Chicago.


Courses taught include Sound, The Body, Performance and the City, Ethnographic Research Methods, Critical Theory, Arts and Citizenship, and Culture, Energy, and Environment. She coordinates the Sensory Ethnography Group ( and Energy Soundscapes (


A cellist, Peterson plays primarily new and experimental music.


Research Interests

Cities; sound, music, performance; infrastructure, labor, and resources; senses, embodiment, and materiality; production of space; globalization and transnationalism; social theory; United States (Los Angeles, Appalachian Ohio) & Southeast Asia (Singapore)



2012                Audio Work: Labor, Value, and the Making of Musical Aesthetics. Co-edited with Jesse Shipley. Special issue of Journal of Popular Music Studies 24(4).

2012                Global Downtowns. Co-edited with Gary W. McDonogh. Philadelphia: University                         of Pennsylvania Press.

2010                Sound, Space, and the City: Civic Performance in Downtown Los Angeles.                                      Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.



2016                Emergent Sound: Labor, Materiality, and Nonrepresentational Music. Popular Music Studies 39(3).

2016                Sensory Attunements: Working with the Past in the Little Cities of Black Diamonds. South Atlantic Quarterly 115(1): 89-111.

2013                Surface Effects: Vital Traces and Underground Spaces in Appalachian Ohio. O-Zone: A Journal of Object-Oriented Studies.

2013                Sonic Cosmopolitanisms: Experimental Improvised Music and Cultural                                          Exchange. In The Arab Avant-Garde: Musical Innovation in the Middle East.                                  Thomas Burkhalter, Kay Dickinson, and Benjamin J. Harbert, eds. Middletown,                                     Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.

2013                Sound Work: Law, Labor and Capital in the 1940s Recording Bans of the                                       American Federation of Musicians. Anthropological Quarterly 86(3):791-824.

2012                Introduction (with Jesse Shipley). In Audio Work: Labor, Value, and the Making of Musical Aesthetics. Special issue of Journal of Popular Music Studies 24(4):399-410.

2012                Utopia/Dystopia: The Arts and Downtown Development in Los Angeles. In Global Downtowns. Marina Peterson and Gary W. McDonogh, eds. Pp. 209-233. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

2007                Translocal Civilities: Chinese Modern Dance at Downtown Los Angeles Public                               Concerts. In Deciphering the Global: Its Scales, Spaces and Subjects. Saskia                                  Sassen, ed. Pp. 41-58. New York: Routledge.

2006                Patrolling the Plaza: Privatized Public Space and the Neoliberal State In Downtown Los Angeles. Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 35(4):355-386.



Educational Background:

Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Chicago Performer’s Certificate, Cello, Northern Illinois University M.A., Anthropology, University of Chicago B.A., Anthropology, University of Chicago