Michael Allemana

Michael Allemana, Dissertation Fellow at the CSRPC; PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology

Michael Allemana is a doctoral candidate in Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the intersections of race, geography, and music among jazz musicians and audiences in Chicago. His dissertation “‘Will You Still Be Mine?’: Memory, Place, Race and Jazz on Chicago’s South Side” examines how the racialized geography of Chicago’s South and North Sides has shaped and continues to shape lived musical experience. With data gathered from participant observation, interviews, archival work, and musical analysis, his research investigates how past musical and social experiences inform the present; the role places play in focusing memories of those profound experiences; how South Side jazz clubs afforded the generation of social and musical networks among jazz musicians and audiences from a variety of subject positions, with particular focus on the late saxophonist Von Freeman's South Side jam sessions at the New Apartment Lounge; and to what degree processes of racialization mediate past and present social and musical relationships. His research aims to reformulate South Side cultural history and to address critical gaps in the documentation of South Side cultural, social, and spatial histories by looking at the lives of practitioners who have defined the Chicago scene since the 1940s in the everyday work of jazz performance.


Allemana received his B.A. in Jazz Performance from Northern Illinois University and M.M. in Jazz Studies from Northwestern University. At the University of Chicago, he was co-coordinator in 2015 for Ethnoise! The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop, and a 2016-2017 Urban Doctoral Fellow. In 2019 he published “Trying to Get the Gig: ‘Ethnic’ Weddings from the Musician’s Perspective,” in Music in the American Diasporic Wedding, edited by Inna Naroditskaya for Indiana University Press, a chapter that investigates the musical, business, and social negotiations in which musicians engage when providing musical services at weddings of clients who identify with diasporic communities. Allemana is also an active jazz guitarist and serves on the Chicago Jazz Festival Programming Committee.