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Francis Bradley

Associate Professor


Francis (Cisco) Bradley is a scholar of social, cultural, and intellectual history set in diasporan contexts, as well as a cultural theorist, ethnomusicologist, and ethnographer. Since 2011, his work has focused on music and migration, particularly as it has manifested in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His current research focuses on the Great Migration and the emergence of Black Creative Music across the United States.

He also runs the Free Jazz Oral History Project, founded in 2016, that aims to document, preserve, and make publicly available the history of the music and community in the words of those who created it. The project has recorded over 500 interviews with more ongoing. Some of the interviews appear on Jazz Right Now which he founded in 2013.

His current research is a multi-volume history of the Great Migration and American music.

His third book, The Williamsburg Avant-Garde: Experimental Music and Sound on the Brooklyn Waterfront (Duke University Press, 2023) examines the rise and fall of the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, underground music scene from the late 1980s to the early 2010s as the vanguard of new American music at the turn of the millennium. The project examines the role of gentrification and global capital in the shaping of cultural production in New York City.

His second book, Universal Tonality: The Life and Music of William Parker (Duke University Press, 2021), is a critical biography of the free jazz bassist. Situating Parker within the history of the African diaspora in the Americas, he charts the rise of Parker in the New York scene from the early 1970s to the present, illustrating his associations with many figures including Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves, Charles Gayle, Cooper-Moore, Daniel Carter, and Hamid Drake.

His first book, Forging Islamic Power and Place: The Legacy of Shaykh Da’ud bin ‘Abd Allah al-Fatani in Mecca and Southeast Asia (University of Hawaii Press, 2016) examines how an Islamic textual tradition became the currency for the rise of a transnational Islamic revivalist network originating out of what is now southern Thailand and extended across the Indian Ocean to South Asia, the Middle East, and southern Africa.

Bradley teaches courses that tell the histories of people in motion: migrants, travelers, seafarers, merchants, musicians and artists, pirates, pilgrims, fugitives, and refugees who have made homes outside of their points of origin.

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison.