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Listen But Don't Ask Question: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Across the TransPacific (Duke University Press, 2019) listens to Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and non-Hawaiian slack key guitarists in Hawai'i, California, and Japan, tracing how notions of belonging and authenticity become contested depending on who plays the music and where. In Hawai'i slack key guitar functions as a sign of Kanaka Maoli cultural renewal, resilience, and resistance in the face of appropriation and occupation, while in Japan it becomes the means through which to create a merged Japanese-Hawaiian artistic and cultural sensibility. For diasporic Hawaiians in California, it provides a way to claim Hawaiian identity. By demonstrating how slack key guitar is a site for the articulation of Hawaiian-ness, I hope to show the divergent ways slack key guitarists are reconfiguring notions of Hawaiian belonging throughout the transPacific.

"In addition to telling Hawaiian slack key guitar's remarkable history, Kevin Fellezs provides an excellent introduction to the political, social, and economic challenges endured by Hawaiians who live in a homeland dominated by people who have even appropriated the word 'aloha' to expedite material and cultural plunder. This book is a wonderful achievement and a significant intellectual feat.""
      John W. Troutman, author of Kika Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music , Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934

" Listen But Don't Ask Question theorizes a 'polycultural transPacific' to highlight Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) as central participants in the cultural production of slack key guitar music while attending to the multiple lineages tradition. Kevin Fellezs illuminates the complications of cultural and material stewardship as they are bound up in the performance and perpetuation of the musical form, Hawaiian principles of reciprocity, cultural revival and the music industry, community and belonging, and aesthetics. This is bold, rich, and important work that is well-researched, robustly conceptualized, and finely written."
      J. Kehaulani Kauanui, author of Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism , Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity

Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion (Duke University Press, 2011) is an analysis of the emergence, reception, and legacy of fusion, a liminal music "non-genre" that emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s as musicians combined jazz, rock, and funk. Birds of Fire is honored to be listed with the Duke University Press's Refiguring American Music series, co-edited by Ronald Radano and Josh Kun.

CO-WINNER 2012 Woody Guthrie book award (International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Branch)

"What a pleasure it is to read this insightful, exciting, and extremely well listened analysis of fusion music. Kevin Fellezs suggests new ways of understanding the four artists he profiles, develops a productive framework for rethinking fusion, and helps us to understand why artists and audiences were stimulated by this music even as it was dismissed by purists. Birds of Fire is a major contribution to rethinking the place of fusion within jazz studies, as well as broader questions of genre across disciplines."
      Sherrie Tucker, Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s , Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen , co-editor of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies

"More than a study of one underexplored market niche, Birds of Fire brilliantly illuminates how the market both inhibits and enables creativity, as well as how creative musicians challenge the music industry's narrowing and naturalizing of complicated, constructed, conflicted, and deeply contradictory social identities."
      George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit From Identity Politics , Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Focus of Place , Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music

I am unable to fully express my gratitude to Professor Liu Yan for translating Birds of Fire into Chinese.

I offer my inadequate "Thank you" here as a small way to publicly acknowledge how much I appreciate Professor Liu's hard work and tireless diligence in producing her translation. (Beijing: Central Conservatory of Music Press, 2017 )


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"The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it." Karl Marx