Fumi Okiji

Assistant Professor


Ph.D. Royal Holloway, University of London

Fumi pic


7323 Dwinelle

Tuesdays, 10am-12pm




Research Interests

Black Study

Frankfurt School Critical Theory

Sound and Music Studies

Performance Studies

Black Feminist Thought

I arrived at the academy by way of the London jazz scene in which I took an active part as a vocalist and improvisor. I work across black study, critical theory, and sound and music studies. My research and teaching looks to black expression for ways to understand modern and contemporary life, which is to say, I explore works and practices for what they can provide by way of social theory. For instance, my book Jazz as Critique: Adorno and Black Expression Revisited (Stanford University Press, 2018) is a sustained engagement with Theodor Adorno’s idea concerning the critical potential of art. I propose that the socio-musical play of jazz is not representative of the individualistic and democratic values, the music is most readily associated with. The book centers blackness as a more appropriate analytic through which to understand its social significance.

I am currently focused on a second book project, tentatively entitled Billie’s Bent Elbow: The Standard as Revolutionary Intoxication. It is a response to praxes—including leftist and black feminist love-politics, hyper-relationality, and empathetic scholarship—that appeal to “eternal values” of imagined futures. I suggest that such frameworks arrive too soon, and lack the coevality necessary for truly transformational practice in thought. Again, I look to black music, and especially jazz, to provide an anchor for these formulations.

As an ongoing part of my research and teaching, I experiment with approaches to study and writing, drawn from sound practices. I am a member of Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective, a group of friends who, whenever possible, study, listen to music and eat good food together.



“Cecil’s Non-sensuous Standard: Harnessing the Energies of Intoxication for Revolution.” The New Centennial Review (forthcoming, 2021).

“Music and Economic Planning.” South Atlantic Quarterly (2020), co-authored.

“’All that is Written’: Matana Roberts.” Black One Shot series, ASAP/Journal (forthcoming, 2020).

 “Storytelling in Jazz Work as Retrospective Collaboration.” Journal of the Society for American Music (2017).


Peer-reviewed chapters

“Onanism, Handjobs, Smut: Performances of Self-valorization.” The Routledge Companion to Performance Philosophy. Edited by Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca, A. Lagaay, and W. Daddario. Routledge (2020).

“Adorno, popular music, and (black) folk aesthetics.” The Oxford University Press Adorno Handbook. Edited by Martin Shuster and Henry Pickford, Oxford (contracted, in preparation).


Other publications

“Oriki for Don Cherry.” Organic Music Societies: Special Edition, Black Forms (forthcoming, 2020).

“In Conversation with Nicole Mitchell.” Fourth Edition Festival for Other Music. Edited by John Chantler (2019).