Jessica Bissett Perea

Credit Genevieve Shiffrar

Jessica Bissett Perea, PhD, (Dena’ina) is an interdisciplinary musician-scholar whose Indigenous-led and Indigeneity-centered work advances radical and relational ways of being, knowing, and doing to generate more just futures for Indigenous communities. Her current projects include co-directing the “Radical and Relational Approaches to Food Fermentation and Food Security” project, which is supported by an international partnership with researchers from Ilisimatusarfik Kalaallit Nunaat (Nuuk, Greenland), and co-convening an Asia-Pacific Indigenous Studies seminar in partnership with researchers from Universiti Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

Bissett Perea’s first book Sound Relations: Native Ways of Doing Music History in Alaska (Oxford University Press, 2021) delves into histories of Inuit musical life in Alaska to amplify the broader significance of sound as integral to Indigenous self-determination and resurgence movements. The book offers relational and radical ways of listening to a vast archive of Inuit presence across a range of genres—from hip hop to Christian hymnody and drumsongs to funk and R&B—to register how a density (not difference) of Indigenous ways of musicking invites readers to listen more critically to and for intersections of music, Indigeneity, and colonialism in the Americas.

Dr. Bissett Perea’s research, teaching, and service priorities are informed by her lived experiences and academic training. She was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised on her ancestral Dena’ina homelands forty miles north in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. She is an enrolled member of the Knik Tribe and a shareholder in Cook Inlet Region Inc. (an Alaska Native Corporation). Dr. Bissett Perea studied double bass and vocal performance, music education, and history at Central Washington University before pursuing an MA in Music at the University of Nevada, Reno. She completed her PhD in musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles and was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Music at UC Berkeley.

Bissett Perea’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Hellman Fellows Program, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the UC Institute for Research in the Arts, the UC Center for New Racial Studies, the UC Humanities Research Institute, the UC President’s Office, and more. Her innovative research, teaching, and dedication to community outreach were recognized with a 2010 Alaska Native Visionary Award, presented by the Alaska Native Heritage Month committee and board of directors, a 2015 UC Davis Native American Community Honoring, presented by the Native American Culture Days and Powwow Committees, and a 2020 Outstanding Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Award from the UC Davis Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

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