University of Pittsburgh

Adriana Helbig

Associate Professor
Director, Carpathian Music Ensemble
Affiliated Faculty Member, Cultural Studies, Global Studies, Center for Russian and East European Studies
PhD, Columbia University, 2005
306 Music Building
anh59 [at] pitt [dot] edu


Eastern European Gypsy music, music and development aid, post-socialist cultural policies, global hip-hop (primarily in Ukraine and Uganda), music and politics, music and migration


I am an associate professor of music and an affiliated faculty member in Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, Global Studies, and the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. A member of the graduate faculty, I teach courses on global hip-hop, world music, music, gender, and sexuality, music and technology, and cultural policy. I am also founder and director of the Carpathian Music Ensemble, a student performance group that specializes in the music of Eastern Europe, including Jewish klezmer and Gypsy music. My research has been funded through generous grants and research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Councils for International Education, IREX, and Fulbright. I have held a research fellowship at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and I was an inaugural research fellow at the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh. My articles on Romani (Gypsy) music, postsocialist cultural policy, music and piracy, music, race, and migration, and global hip-hop have appeared in edited collections and journals such as The Yearbook for Traditional Music, Current Musicology, and Popular Music. I am the coauthor, with Oksana Buranbaeva and Vanja Mladineo, of The Culture and Customs of Ukraine (Greenwood Press, 2009). My forthcoming ethnography on African musicians in Ukraine who use hip-hop as a form of social activism is titled “Hip-Hop Revolution: Music, Race, and Migration in Ukraine” (Indiana University Press).

Recent Courses

  • Introduction to World Music
  • Global Hip-Hop: Music, Culture, and Technology
  • Music and Social Change in the Balkans
  • Music and Sports

Selected Honors and Awards

Humanities Center Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh (2009-2010)

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Kennan Institute (covering Russia and surrounding states), Washington DC – Title VIII-supported Research Scholar (summer 2009)

International Research and Exchange Board - Short-term Travel Grant to Ukraine (2009)

National Endowment for the Humanities - Collaborative Research Fellowship to Ukraine (2008)

American Councils for International Education - Postdoctoral Advanced Research Fellowship to Ukraine (2007)

Fulbright - U.S. Student Fulbright Award to Ukraine (2001-2002)

Selected Publications

Helbig, Adriana, Oksana Buranbaeva and Vanja Mladineo. Culture and Customs of Ukraine. Westwood, CT: Greenwood Press. (2009)

“Representation and Intracultural Dynamics: Romani Musicians and Cultural Rights Discourse in Ukraine.” In Music and Cultural Rights. Edited by Andrew Weintraub and Bell Yung, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 269-295. (2009)

“Managing Musical Diversity within Frameworks of Western Development Aid: Views from Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina” Yearbook for Traditional Music 40: 46-59 (2009)

“Ethnomusicology and Advocacy Research: Theory in Action among Romani NGOs in Ukraine.” Anthropology of East Europe Review: Special Issue on Roma and Gadje 25/2: 78-83. (2007)

“The Cyberpolitics of Music in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution.” Current Musicology 82: 81-101. (2006)

“Play For Me, Old Gypsy”: Music as Political Resource in the Roma Rights Movement in Ukraine (PhD Dissertation, Columbia University), (2005)

Selected Papers

“Hip-Hop Events, African Migration, and Corporate Commodification of Racialized Musical Bodies in Ukraine.” International Council for Traditional Music, World Conference, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, July 1-8, 2009.

“‘Yeah, yeah, this is what ya call da real music’: Intercultural Aesthetics in Afro-Ukrainian Hip-Hop.” Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, Wesleyan University, October 25-28, 2008.

“Sonic Aesthetics of Poverty Among Romani Musicians in Transcarpathia, Ukraine.” International Council for Traditional Music, Music and Minorities Study Group Meeting, Prague, Czech Republic, May 24-June 1, 2008.

“Drawing the Line Between Political Agendas and Objective Research In Romani Studies.” First Annual Romani Studies Conference, Kyiv, Ukraine April 14-16, 2008.

“‘Make a Hip, Make Me a Hop’: Afro-American Music and Race Identity in Ukraine.” International Association for the Study of Popular Music (U.S.) Annual Conference, University of Iowa, April 25-27, 2008.

“Sampling Blackness: Hip-Hop and Afro-Ukrainian Identity in Kyiv and Kharkiv.” Kennan Institute (covering Russia and surrounding states), Washington DC, February 19, 2008.

“In Culture’s Name: Western Development Aid, Identity Politics, and Post-Socialist Ethnomusicologies.” International Council for Traditional Music, World Conference, University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, July 4-11, 2007.

“Broadening the Dialogue Between Regional Ethnomusicologies in Ukraine.” International Symposium in European Ethnomusicology, Cardiff University, April 27-29, 2007.

“Popular Music in the Postsocialist Context.” American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Annual Conference, Washington DC, November 16-19, 2006.

“Dialogics of Development: NGOs, European Integration, and Roma in Ukraine.” Danyliw Research Seminar in Contemporary Ukrainian Studies, Ottawa, October 12-14, 2006.


Carpathian Music Ensemble, Founder and Director

Student members of the Carpathian Music Ensemble research and perform a wide repertoire of Gypsy, klezmer, Romanian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Hungarian, Slovak, and Polish musical traditions, as well as a wide range of Balkan popular songs. The ensemble performs many times throughout the academic year at university events and at public and community venues throughout Pittsburgh. The group hosts a Slavic Dance Party in early December and holds its annual concert in late March.


University of Pittsburgh Campus Fulbright Interview Committee

PittFilm Travel-to-Collections Grant Committee

Cultural Studies – Music Faculty Liaison

Outreach projects at the Kharkiv Conservatory of Music, Ukraine

American Association of Ukrainian Studies – Secretary/Treasurer (2006- present)

Research Projects

Eastern European Gypsy Contributions to World Music

Hip-Hop Revolution: Music, Migration, and Race Relations in Ukraine

Playing for Peace –Refugee Hip-Hop in Gulu, Uganda

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