Anaar Desai-Stephens received a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from the Manhattan School of Music (2004), a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology from Boston University (2009), and a PhD in Ethnomusicology from Cornell University (2017). During her studies at Cornell, she received the Randel Dissertation and Teaching fellowship, the T. Temple Tuttle Prize for Best Student Paper from the Niagara Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the American Musicological Society’s Howard Mayer Brown Fellowship.
Anaar has presented papers at meetings of the American Anthropological Association, the New York Council on Asian Studies, the Annual Conference on South Asia, the Indian Musicological Society, and the Society for Ethnomusicology. She has published reviews and articles in World of Music (New Series), Music in Contemporary Indian Film: Memory, Voice, Identity, and MusiCULTURE (forthcoming). Currently, she is working on an article that explores the rise of YouTube in India as a new site of musical performance that is producing new aesthetics and practices of distinction.
Anaar has done fieldwork and research in Mumbai, India on Bollywood and playback singers, Indian Idol, and women in classical Hindustani musical traditions. She has performed widely as a violinist for groups as varied as New York’s Bang on a Can, baroque ensembles at Cornell and Oberlin, and the Mumbai-based world music band Maati Baani. Her research interests include the intersection of musical practice, subjectivity, and embodiment; popular music and neoliberalism; musical affect; media and circulation; and the transnational life of the violin.