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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Deborah Justice

Deborah Justice portrait

Part-Time Instructor

Art and Music Histories


Deborah Justice is an ethnomusicologist and active folk musician. Critical questions arising from her own music-making led her to study how people use music to make sense of the social worlds around them. As a result, her research draws on interdisciplinary scholarship—from ethnomusicology and sociology to media studies and architecture—to interrogate constructs of “American-ness” and ethnicity by investigating the changing musical, spiritual, and demographic borders of communities. Her work has been featured in The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities, Routledge Press’ Congregational Music Studies series, collections in cultural geography from Springer Press, Yearbook for Traditional Music, as well as other peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Justice’s comparative experiences living abroad in Europe and the Middle East have helped bring a global context into her work and teaching. In addition to teaching and research, Justice plays and teaches hammered dulcimer, clawhammer banjo and guitar. She has two applied books: Middle Eastern Music for the Hammered Dulcimer (Mel Bay) and, with Pete Rushefsky, Klezmer for Hammered Dulcimer (Center for Traditional Music and Dance). Justice performs and has a general good time with various local old-time, Irish, and other folky configurations.


  • Ph.D., Indiana University
  • M.A., Wesleyan University
  • B.A., College of William and Mary


Ethnomusicology, music and religion, and American music