Mesa Refuge Alum Josh Kun Wins MacArthur Fellowship
Josh Kun, Mesa Refuge’s Marion Weber Healing Arts Fellow in 2016, has received a MacArthur Fellowship. Josh is a professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
As a cultural historian exploring the ways in which the arts and popular culture are conduits for cross-cultural exchange. In work that spans academic scholarship, exhibitions, and performances, Kun unearths and brings to life forgotten historical narratives through finely grained analyses of material and sonic manifestations of popular culture. He complicates our understanding of the evolution of racial and ethnic identity in America in works such as Audiotopia (2006), a comprehensive comparative study of African American, Jewish American, Mexican American, and Mexican popular music, and the co-authored And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl (2008), a close reading of over 400 Jewish music album covers.
In these and many other projects, including cultural studies of the U.S.-Mexico border, Kun is showing how communities that may have historically been seen as separate actually have much in common. At the same time, his dedication to identifying new ways to make the histories of cultural production tangible for the public is demonstrating the power of public humanities at its best.