Jessica Bissett Perea
Jessica Bissett Perea (Dena'ina Athabascan/Scottish American) was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised forty miles north in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. She is an enrolled citizen of the Knik Tribe and is a CIRI shareholder (Cook Inlet Region, Inc. is an Alaska Native Regional Corporation).
Jessica is a first-generation college graduate and is currently a doctoral candidate in musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She specializes in North American music history from 1850 to present day, with a focus on traditional and contemporary Alaska Native song and dance, modern jazz cultures, and American traditional musics (including folk, popular, and classical). Her dissertation, "Pamyua Pathways: A Tribalography of Urban Alaska Native Musical Life, 1971-Present," demonstrates that although contemporary Alaska Native musicians access a wide range of musical styles and traditions, their understandings about how the music means align in important ways. She is developing a tribalography approach – an interdisciplinary, critical, and dialogic methodology that foregrounds Native voices and perspectives – that traces the lived experiences and movements of Alaska Native musicians across actual and imagined spaces in order to better understand who they are and what kinds of lives they lead that makes their music meaningful. As such, "Pamyua Pathways" raises questions surrounding notions of what "Native" can mean in the twenty-first century and critiques the specifically colonial dimensions of racialization in American musical life.
Jessica is also presently publishing and teaching in the areas of ethnic studies, indigenous methodologies, historiography, and women, gender, and sexuality studies. Reflecting these interests, her research is broadly concerned with issues of difference in musical life, e.g. racial and gendered difference, as well as historical relationships between music and politics. In 2010 she joined the faculty of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University. She has presented her research at several national conferences, including those hosted by the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for American Music. Her essay on gender and the institutionalization of jazz education appears in the collection Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries (under contract with University of California Press). Jessica holds a Bachelor of Music Education with high honors from Central Washington University, a Master of Arts in Music from the University of Nevada, Reno, and performs as a double bassist and vocalist in jazz, classical, and Native American music contexts. Her teaching has included undergraduate courses on: American Indian Women; Blues in American Music; A History of Jazz; Film and Music; Music, Media, and Consumer Society; and A History of Popular American Song.