Photo of Ian Macmillan
  • Assistant Professor of Russian and East European Studies
  • Director of the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (OCREECAS)


  • BA, music theory, Pomona College, 2005
  • PhD, anthropology of music (ethnomusicology), University of Pennsylvania, 2012


Ian MacMillen directs the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (OCREECAS) and is on faculty in the related Russian East European Studies (REES) program. Trained in the anthropology of music/ethnomusicology and the theory and history of music, he takes a keen interest as a scholar and pedagogue in intersections of social scientific and humanities approaches to culture.

As an administrator, he oversees OCREECAS’s diverse programming, ranging from presentations of new research by visiting scholars and panel discussions of the region’s politics and culture, to a writer in residence series and such cultural programs as concerts.

A former assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Whitman College, MacMillen teaches ethnomusicology and anthropology courses in Oberlin’s REES program with a focus primarily on Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Current and recent courses include Roma and "Gypsies" in the Musical Imagination; Anthropology of Eastern Europe; Music and Revolution in Postsocialist Eurasia; Yugoslavia and Its Worlds; Rockin’ the Bloc; and Balkan Music Ensemble.

His classes regularly include hands-on fieldwork and service components for which they partner with local diasporic communities and Orthodox churches.

Ian MacMillen's primary research focuses on the racialized and affective nature of interethnic and transnational connections forged through music —particularly popular and traditional tambura chordophone bands in multiethnic communities of post-conflict Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia. This is the topic of a forthcoming monograph (Wesleyan University Press, 2019) entitled Playing It Dangerously: Race, Affect, and Intimacy among Croatia’s Tambura Bands.

His research on this and related topics has been funded by an ACLS Dissertation Research Fellowship in East European Studies, a University of Illinois Slavic Library Summer Research Lab Associateship, a research grant from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, and Oberlin College Powers Travel Grants.

MacMillen’s current book-length project, Forgetting Out Loud, examines the use (complicity) of music and sound more broadly in sites and rituals that variously commemorate and facilitate the erasure of 20th-century violence in Eastern Europe, challenging the assumption that sound signifies presence thereby contributes to individual and cultural memory.

Additional interests include musical fascination and tourism at Bulgarian folk music festivals; popular music black markets along Eastern Europe’s borderwaters; the use of American jazz and rock’n’ roll in Soviet political animated film; and musical connections between West Africa and its North American and Caribbean diasporas.

  • Monograph: Playing It Dangerously: Race, Affect, and Intimacy among Croatia’s Tambura Bands, Wesleyan University Press, forthcoming 2019
  • “Tambura Music, Flags, and the Deterritorialization of Rituals at Croatian-American Weddings,’’ in Music, Weddings, and Diaspora, ed. Inna Naroditskaya, Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2019
  • “Cartoon Jazz: Soviet Animations and the Khrushchev ‘Thaw,’” peer-reviewed article coauthored with art historian Masha Kowell of the Norton Simon Museum, in Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Winter 2015):24-38
  • “Fascination, Musical Tourism, and the Loss of the Balkan Village (Notes on Bulgaria’s Koprivshtitsa Festival),” peer-reviewed article in Ethnomusicology, Vol. 59, No. 2 (Summer 2015):227-261
  • “Tamburaši of the Balkanized Peninsula: Musical Relations of The Slavonian Tambura Society “Pajo Kolarić” in Croatia and Its Intimates,” peer-reviewed article in Balkanistica, Vol. 27 (Spring 2014):75-109
  • “Ritual and Performance in the Yorùbá World,” exhibition by Ian MacMillen with assistance from Dessane Cassell ’14,  Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, February – July 2013
  • “Local Color and the Search for the Musical Origin of the Nation in the Early Nineteenth Century, from the German to the Croatian Lands,” peer-reviewed article in Bulgarian Musicology [Българско Музикознание], Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 2013):3-16
  • “From the Center in the Middle: Working Tambura Bands and Constructions of the In-Between in Croatia and Its Intimates,” peer-reviewed article in Current Musicology, Vol. 91 (November 2011):87-122


  • Ian MacMillen Presents at Conference

    November 19, 2018

    Assistant Professor of Russian and East European Studies Ian MacMillen presented "Remembering (and Forgetting) Out Loud: Sonic Engagement of Holocaust and WWII Memorials in Berlin" at the 63rd annual Society for Ethnomusicology conference in Albuquerque, NM.