Mary Talusan holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation examines music, gender, transnationalism, and migration through the diverse musics of the Magindanao, a Muslim Filipino minority group. With a Fulbright (IIE) Fellowship and FLAS Fellowship, she conducted 18 months of fieldwork in Marharlika Village, Taguig, Metro Manila and Cotabato City, Mindanao. She is indebted to Danongan Kalanduyan and his extended family for their hospitality, generosity, and musical expertise. Her dissertation committee included Dr. Helen Rees, Dr. A.J. Racy, and Dr. Anthony Seeger. She published an article on “rebel songs” created during the armed rebellion against the Marcos regime and how they drew on themes of Islamic piety and images of American cowboys to cultivate an ethnoreligious identity among Muslim Filipinos. Her future book project, based on her dissertation work, is entitled Women’s Courtship Voices: Music and Gender in the Muslim Philippines. This book will investigate how music and performance give voice to otherwise hidden sentiments of women during courtship in a provocative stage show called the dayunday. Using a retuned western guitar, performers sometimes use a disappearing musical language called kapagapad to transmit risqué limericks to the audience’s delight.
Talusan’s M.A. thesis (1999) examines how kulintang, Muslim Filipino gong music, plays an important role in the cultural identity-seeking activities of Filipino Americans. She recently published a chapter on Filipino American kulintang in the collection of essays called Muslims and American Popular Culture. She argued that the music culture surrounding kulintang music in America has created its own genre and set of culturally appropriate meanings despite debates over musical authenticity.
Dr. Talusan has completed a draft of her first book Symphony Halls, World’s Fairs, and America’s Racial Others: The Philippine Constabulary Band and African American Officer Lt. Walter H. Loving. Gathering over 10 years of research on her great grandfather’s role in the band, his travels with the band to the United States, and close friendship with Black conductor, Walter Loving, she analyzes the connections between music, race, and U.S. imperialism during the early 20th century in America. White American audiences’ overwhelmingly positive response to the PC Band’s Euro-American concert band repertoire, she argues, is partly motivated by a desire to mitigate racial (and musical) anxieties over American identity during an era of colonialism and weakening of European cultural hegemony. The book is based on a previously published article in Philippine Studies (2004).
Currently she teaches courses in world music, popular music, and interdisciplinary courses at Loyola Marymount University and CSU-Dominguez Hills (click here for a current list). She occasionally gives workshops on the kulintang ensemble, and has studied cello, Chinese erhu, Balinese gamelan, and Javanese gamelan. Several of her musical compositions have been performed in Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Manila, Philippines. Dr. Talusan is dedicated to mentoring diverse and underrepresented students and serves as faculty advisor for the student organization ASIA@CSUDH.
Short bio for use in publications:
Mary Talusan currently serves as Interim Coordinator for Asian Pacific Studies at CSU Dominguez Hills. Her work examines Filipino and Filipino American musical performances through the complex web of race-making, U.S. colonization of the Philippines, and contemporary cultural production. Recent publications include “Muslim Filipino Traditions in Filipino American Popular Culture” in Muslims and American Popular Culture (2014) and “Marching to ‘Progress’: Music, Race, and Imperialism at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair” in Mixed Blessing: The Impact of the American Colonial Experience on Politics and Society in the Philippines (2013). Her book-in- progress is entitled Symphony Halls, World’s Fairs, and America’s Racial Others: Concert Tours of the Philippine Constabulary Band and African American Officer Walter H. Loving in early 20th Century. Talusan received the Fulbright (IIE), Ford Dissertation Fellowship, and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship. She performs with the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble.