Katherine Hagedorn
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Katherine Hagedorn
Katherine Hagedorn
Katherine Johanna Hagedorn

(1961-10-16)October 16, 1961
DiedNovember 12, 2013(2013-11-12) (aged 52)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materB.A. Tufts University, Spanish, Russian and English studies, minor in classical piano; Johns Hopkins University, master's degree, international relations; Brown University, master's and PhD in ethnomusicology
OccupationEthnomusicologist, Santeria priestess
EmployerPomona College
Known forResearch on Afro-Cuban religious and folkloric performance
Board member ofNational Society for Ethnomusicology
Terry Ryan
Parent(s)Fred and Grace Hagedorn
AwardsWhite House fellow; California Professor of the Year award, 2000; Mellon New Directions Fellowship; Alan Merriam Prize, 2002

Katherine Johanna Hagedorn (October 16, 1961 - November 12, 2013) was an ethnomusicologist, born in Summit, New Jersey to a white family, who became a traditional Cuban drummer and Santeria priestess.

She spent her career as a Professor of Music at Pomona College in Claremont, California, where she directed the Ethnomusicology Program, served as co-coordinator of the Gender & Women's Studies Program, and became an associate dean. She also served as a "scholar-in-residence at Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religions and as a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara."[1]

Trained in languages and classical piano at Tufts University, Hagedorn earned an M.A. in Soviet Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She became a White House fellow, and worked on the Afghanistan desk at the State Department.[1]

Starting in 1989, Hagedorn traveled to Cuba to study the batá drum in Matanzas Province. There, she was initiated as a Santería priestess. At Pomona, she taught the batá drum, Tuvan throat singing, and directed a Balinese Gamelan ensemble. Her classes were described as "emphatically participatory, not to mention loud."[2]

Her best known work is Divine Utterances: The Performance of Afro-Cuban Santería.[3]


  • Hagedorn, Katherine J. (2001). Divine utterances: the performance of Afro-Cuban Santería. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 156098922X.
  • Hagedorn, Katherine J. (2006). "Toward a Theology of Sound". Harvard Divinity Bulletin. 34 (2). Archived from the original on 2013-10-09. Retrieved .
  • "Katherine J. Hagedorn". Microsoft Academic Search. Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved .


  1. ^ a b Wood, Mark (2013-11-13). "In Memoriam: Professor of Music Katherine Hagedorn". Pomona College. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Colker, David (2013-11-18). "Katherine Hagedorn dies at 52; Pomona professor was Santeria priestess". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Sampedro, Benita (2004). "Divine Utterances: The Performance of Afro-Cuban Santería by Katherine J. Hagedorn". Research in African Literatures. 35 (2): 203-04. doi:10.1353/ral.2004.0053. Retrieved .

External links

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