Skip to main content

Lei Ouyang

Associate Professor

Department Chair, Music

Program Coordinator, Asian American Studies


Asian Studies


  2. Phone: (610) 690-2020
  3. Lang Music Building 412

Photo by Bob Williams



Lei X. Ouyang, she/her, (Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnomusicology, University of Pittsburgh; B.A. in East Asian Studies, Macalester College) is Associate Professor and Chair of Music at Swarthmore College. Her scholarly interests are in music, culture, and performance in East Asia (primarily China, Japan, and Taiwan) and Asian America. Her research examines issues of music and memory, identity, politics, race and ethnicity, and social justice. Research projects include music and memory in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Race and Performance in Asian American musical theatre, and social justice and taiko drumming in the American Midwest. Lei previously taught at Skidmore College (2006-2017) as Associate Professor of Music, at Macalester College (2004-2006) as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow, and at National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of Musicology (Spring 2021) as a Visiting Associate Professor. You can find her CV and published work at


Chinese Cultural Revolution, Taiko drumming, music and intersections with topics including memory, politics, race, ethnicity, social identities, and social justice.


Music & Dance Cultures of the World
Music and Culture in East Asia
Music, Race, and Class
Music & Chairman Mao: Music & Politics in Communist China
Music & the Battle between Good & Evil
Ethnomusicology (Seminar)
Chinese Cultural Revolution Culture
Taiko & Asian American Experiences
Chinese Music Ensemble


2022. Music as Mao’s Weapon: Remembering the Cultural RevolutionUniversity of Illinois Press.
2018. “Teaching Mao through Music: Pedagogy and Practice in the Liberal Arts Classroom.” Journal of Music History Pedagogy 8(2): 30-61.
2018. “‘Itsy Bitsy Screw Cap’: Children’s Songs from the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” Journal of Music & Politics 12(1).
2009. “Performing Race and Place in Asian America.” Asian Music 40(1): 4-30.
2007. “Flowers on the Battlefield are More Fragrant.” Asian Music 38(1): 88-121.
2005. “Music, Memory, and Nostalgia: Collective Memories of Cultural Revolution Songs in Contemporary China.” The China Review 5(2): 151-175.
2021. “Music of China and Taiwan” in Excursions in World Music, Eighth Edition, Edited by Timothy Rommen, 94-129. New York, NY: Routledge.
2021. “Music and Memory” in Critical Themes in World Music: A Reader for Excursions in World Music, Eighth Edition, edited by Timothy Rommen, 85-92. New York, NY: Routledge.


2018. Review of Chinatown Opera Theater in North America by Nancy Yunhwa Rao. MUSICultures 45(1-2): 274-276.
2012. Review of Angry Drummers, A Taiko Group from Osaka, Japan [DVD], directed by Yoshitaka Terada. Ethnomusicology 56(3): 569-571.
2009. Review of Lives in Chinese Music, edited by Helen Rees. The World of Music 52(1): 174- 176.
Deborah Wong Research & Publication Award, Society for Ethnomusicology (2018)
President’s Award, Skidmore College (2015)
Andrew W. Mellon Periclean Faculty Leadership Fellow (2021-2022)
Arthur Vining Davis Civic Engagement Fellow (2012-2014)
Association for Asian Studies China and Inner Asia Council Small Grant (2010-2011)
Andrew Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2002-2004)
Dissertation Research Fellowship, Asian Cultural Council (2002)
Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship [Japanese] (2000)
Research Grant, Japan American Society of Pittsburgh (2000)
Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship [Chinese] (1999-2000)


Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM)
2018-2020     Second Vice-President
2016-2017     2017 SEM Program Committee Chair
2013-2014     Council Secretary (& Council Nominating Committee Chair)
2012-2014     Council Member


Association for Chinese Music Research (ACMR)
2012-2015     President
2007-2010     Publications Editor
2005-2010     Member-at-large & Newsletter Editor


Society for Asian Music
2011-2016     Editorial Advisory Board (East Asia)


Crossroads Project on Diversity, Difference, and Under-representation (SEM Standing Committee)
2008-2010     Co-Chair


Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (MACSEM)
2019               Local Arrangements Committee Chair, Annual Meeting
1999-2001     Secretary
Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2004 (Dissertation: 'New Songs of the Battlefield': Songs and Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution)
M.A. in Ethnomusicology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2001 (Thesis: A Musical Metaphor for Nation Building: The Folk Song "Esashi Oiwake" in Early Twentieth Century Japan)
Advanced Certificate in Asian Studies, Language concentration: Chinese, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2001
B.A. in East Asian Studies, Language concentration: Japanese, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1997 (Thesis: Popular Music of Taiwan and Japan)
Book Launch and Discussion: Abe, Ayyagari, Hopkins, Ouyang & Wong
Presser Foundation: Advancement of Music Committee
UC Davis Valente Lecture
Swarthmore College Lang Center Engaged Humanities Studio Fellow
Asian Arts Initative: Radio AAI
Li Delun in Philadelphia: Ethnography, Archives, and Music Across the Pacific