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Katelyn Best

Teaching Assistant Professor of Musicology, West Virginia University

Katelyn Best is a Teaching Assistant Professor of Musicology at West Virginia University. A musicologist and vocalist by training, she earned her B.M. in vocal performance from Saint Mary’s College followed by her M.M. and Ph.D. in musicology from Florida State University. She served as a lecturer for the Department of Musicology at Florida State University as well as the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University. She was also Co-Director of the Florida State University’s Andean Ensemble and Director of the World Music Ensemble Summer Music Program.

As a scholar, her research explores music in Deaf culture, hip hop, sound studies, musical movements, and cultural activism. She received a Carol Krebs Research Fellow Award to conduct fieldwork throughout the U.S. and was awarded the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) Crossroads Music and Social Justice Paper Prize and the SEM Applied Ethnomusicology Paper/Project Prize for work based on this research. She has presented this work both nationally and internationally and has published articles within Lied und Populäre Kultur and the Journal of American Sign Languages and Literatures, a peer-reviewed digital journal with publications in American Sign Language. Forthcoming book chapters include “Expanding Musical Inclusivity: Representing and Re-presenting Music and Deaf Culture through Deaf Hip Hop Performance” in Participatory Approaches to Music and Democracy and “Ethnocentrism 2.0: The Impact of Hearing-Centrism on Musical Expression in Deaf Culture” in At the Crossroads: Music and Social Justice.

In addition to her work at West Virginia University, she is a member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), the British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE), and the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM). She served as a remote referee for the European Research Council and is an active member of the SEM Applied Ethnomusicology Section, the Crossroads Section for Difference and Representation, and the Popular Music Section. She was also a founding committee member and former chair for the SEM Disability and Deaf Studies Special Interest Group. She currently serves as Co-Director and Publicist for the Society for Ethnomusicology Orchestra and is co-editor of At the Crossroads: Music and Social Justice (Indiana University Press).


  • –present
    Teaching Assistant Professor of Musicology, West Virginia University


  • 2015 
    Florida State University, Ph.D.
  • 2010 
    Florida State University, M.M.
  • 2007 
    Saint Mary's College, B.M.


  • 2023
    Ethnocentrism 2.0: Hearing-Centrism, Inclusivity, and Musical Expression in Deaf Culture, At the Crossroads of Music and Social Justice
  • 2021
    Expanding Musical Inclusivity: Representing and Re-presenting Music and Deaf Culture through Hip Hop, Music and Democracy: Participatory Approaches
  • 2018
    Musical Belonging in a Hearing-Centric Society: Adapting and Contesting Dominant Cultural Norms through Deaf Hip Hop, Journal of American Sign Languages and Literatures
  • 2016
    "We Still Have a Dream": The Deaf Hip Hop Movement and the Struggle Against the Socio-Cultural Marginalization of Deaf People, Lied und populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture 60/61

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Ethnomusicology