Lee Watkins studied Ethnomusicology at the University of Kwazulu Natal and the University of Hong Kong. Lee Watkins’ research interests vary from music in relation to heritage, applied studies, migration and refugees, diaspora studies, to music as relating to politics and marginality. He is conducting research on hip hop and rap music in South Africa, in China, and his doctoral research was on migrant Filipino musicians in Hong Kong. He has several publications on these topics and there are several more forthcoming.
Presently he is the co-ordinator for Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music and Musicology, and the leader for a project dealing with the heritage of Ntaba kaNdoda in the Amatole Mountains, service learning and community engagement. In this project the department of music is working with the School of African languages at RU. This project received a grant of R250 000 from the National Heritage Council in 2012 and is ongoing. Recently he was also invited to be the Area Editor for Africa for the journal, Language Arts and Linguistics (Hong Kong). Lee Watkins is also an assessor for the ACLS African Humanities Program, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.