A professor of ethnomusicology, Deborah Wong has exercised the "write to rock" as a scholar, musician, writer, and teacher. Wong’s research and teaching expands the scope of popular music studies by focusing on Asian American musics and identities. She is committed to the spirit of building community through music practices, such as Taiko drumming. She has mentored a growing cohort of scholars and performers who will continue to change the story of popular music in the future.
Professor Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist, specializing in the musics of Thailand and Asian America. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. (1991) from the University of Michigan, where she worked with ethnomusicologist Judith Becker; her B.A., magna cum laude (1982), in anthropology and music, is from the University of Pennsylvania. Her first book, Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual (Chicago University Press, 2001), addresses ritual performance about performance and its implications for the cultural politics of Thai court music and dance in late twentieth-century Bangkok. Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (Routledge, 2004), focuses on music and identity work in a series of case studies (Southeast Asian immigrant musics, Chinese American and Japanese American jazz in the Bay Area, and Asian American hip-hop).
Professor Wong has taught at UCR since fall 1996 and is Professor of Music. Wong is very active in the Society for Ethnomusicology and served as its President (2007-09). She founded the SEM Committee on the Status of Women with Elizabeth Tolbert in 1996. She is deeply committed to public sector work and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, and on the advisory council for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution. Asian American issues and activities are a priority for Wong. She has served on numerous committees addressing issues in Asian American studies curriculum as well as Asian American student needs.
Professor Wong has studied Japanese American drumming (taiko) since 1997 and is a member of Satori Daiko, the performing group of the Taiko Center of Los Angeles. Her book in progress will address taiko in California. Born on the East Coast, Wong is now an enthusiastic Californian. She self-identifies as Chinese American (third generation), as multiethnic, and as Asian American.