Ingrid Bianca Byerly, director of Duke Focus Humanitarian Challenges: Global Innovations and Initiatives, explores how interdisciplinary learning ensures rich, melodious intellectual lives and harmonious interpersonal connections.
Ingrid Bianca Byerly is the director of Duke University’s FOCUS program on Humanitarian Challenges: Global Innovations and Initiatives. She is a South African interdisciplinary scholar in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Her particular research, teaching, and publications focus lies in the investigation of nonviolent global revolutions and protest movements through voices of literature, lenses of cultural anthropology, and earpieces of ethnomusicology. Byerly extends the South African model of “breaking sound barriers” through musical mobilization to areas of political contention between dissenting groups. She also leads public speaking courses at Duke.
Before pursuing her doctorate at Duke, Byerly facilitated intercultural communication and leadership courses in South Africa, and was a lecturer and course director at the international regent courses at Oxford University for 10 summer sessions. She also served on the faculty of Semester at Sea voyages, teaching students world music aboard a floating campus.
Byerly’s doctoral dissertation in cultural anthropology, The Music Indaba of South Africa, examined music as a mirror, mediator, and prophet in the anti-apartheid movement. Her research on revolutionary music in transitions to democracy was awarded the Charles Seeger prize in ethnomusicology.
An avid photographer and filmmaker, her first documentary, When Nations Meet, received the Panasonic Individual Videomakers’ Award in London. She is currently working on the biography and documentary of singer Dolly Rathebe, the favorite African jazz and blues singer of Nelson Mandela.