Rodrigo Chocano

Ethnomusicology ∙ Cultural Governance ∙ Intangible Heritage

About me

I am a Peruvian ethnomusicologist currently based in Islamabad, Pakistan. I hold a PhD from Indiana University, and have academic training in anthropology, cultural studies, and public management. My work verses on the relationship between expressive culture, cultural governance, and ethnic minorities, with a focus on Afro-diasporic communities.  I have worked as a university professor, and as a heritage specialist in organizations as the Ministry of Culture in Peru and UNESCO.


  • PhD, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University (2020)
  • PhD Minor, Public Management, Indiana University
  • MA, Cultural Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru
  • BA, Anthropology, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru

My research

My research explores how cultural governance systems transform the social significance and value of local expressive culture, and how this impacts the lives of practitioner communities. I do research in Latin America and South Asia, with a focus on ethnic minorities and Afro-diasporic communities. My work engages with the political contexts, institutional frameworks, and organizational practices that frame the management of expressive culture as a public good. I focus on how different actors –practitioners, politicians, bureaucrats, activists, entrepreneurs, and others– make decisions and take action within their local / national cultural governance systems, unveiling what people actually do when safeguarding / promoting / fostering their –or someone else’s– cultural practices.

My dissertation, “Music, Intangible Cultural Heritage, and Neoliberal Logics in Peru: a comparative case study,” focuses on the application processes of four musical practices (from Quechua, Aymara and Afro-Peruvian communities) to the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Identifying these application processes as sites where local ideas on musical traditions and heritage encounter neoliberal logics, I focus on how public officials, grassroots practitioners, and other stakeholders strategically negotiate meanings, procedures and objectives in order to advance their particular agendas. I argue that these actors identify this UNESCO mechanism as an opportunity to pursue unmet social, political and economic needs using expressive culture, and I explore the possibilities for agency that this may offer to grassroots practitioners.


Publications, conferences, invited talks and other presentations

Applied work

Research, design, implementation and evaluation activities on cultural policy, at the national and international level


Teaching experience, courses taught, syllabi

My applied work

Along with my research, I work as an international consultant on cultural heritage and policy. Since 2008, I have been professionally engaged with the implementation of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding policy and projects in Latin America. I worked as a cultural specialist at UNESCO Lima and as an intangible cultural heritage official at the Ministry of Culture in Peru. As a consultant, I have worked for organizations as the Smithsonian Institution, the Regional Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Latin America (CRESPIAL), and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. You can see some of the applied work I have done with these organizations here.

In addition to this, I am actively involved with the Afro-Peruvian activist movement, as well as with Afro-Peruvian activists from grassroots practitioner communities. Regarding themselves as an invisible minority, Afro-Peruvian activists often identify expressive culture as a tool that allows them to highlight their existence and cultural particularity within Peru, as well as their contribution to the national project. I align much of my research with this agenda, aiming to contribute with the efforts of Afro-Descendant populations of critically engaging with their expressive culture as an asset for improving their social and political standing within the Peruvian public sphere.

News and updates

9 November, 2019


24 October, 2019



18 October, 2019


August 25, 2019

July 14, 2019

June 30, 2019

June 25, 2019


June 11, 2019

I presented the paper “Outsourcing the Nation? “Traditional” musics, nation building and neoliberal logics in Coke Studio Pakistan” at this year’s Annual Conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), in Bloomington, Indiana. This was the end of my 2019 USA Conference tour.

The Smithsonian Institution invited me and other global researchers to the working conference Critical Developments in Cultural Sustainability, which took place in Washington, DC (definitely one of the coolest research events on heritage I’ve attended so far). There, I presented the paper “The Devil is in the Incentives: Challenges for an encounter between musical sustainability and intangible cultural heritage,” which will become a publication soon 🙂

My 2019 USA Conference tour started with me presenting the paper “Media-worthy traditions: Musical collaboration, nation building and neoliberal logics in Coke Studio Pakistan” at this year’s Annual Conference on South Asia, in Madison, WI .

My research piece “How does a Nation sound?” on music and language politics in Coke Studio Pakistan was published in the Dawn Newspaper in Pakistan. Take a look at it here!

My piece “Fading Sounds: Indus Blues by Jawad Sharif” got published in the July number of the Herald magazine in Pakistan.

Just published a review on the documentary The flight of the condor, by Valdimar Hafstein and Áslaug Einarsdóttir, in the International Journal of Heritage Studies. Take a look at it here!

My article “Manifestaciones Culturales, Representación Estratégica y Agendas: Reflexiones sobre el Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial Afroperuano [Expressive culture, Strategic Representation and Agendas: Reflections on Afro-Peruvian Intangible Cultural Heritage]” just hit the press in Peru. Will share when published 🙂

My article “Producing African-descent: Afro-peruvian music, intangible heritage, authenticity and bureaucracy in a Latin American music compilation,” was just made available in then last issue of the International Journal of Heritage Studies (volume 25, issue 8, 2019). You can access it via the academics page!