Laurie Frederik Meer

Laurie Frederik Meer
Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies
Academic Rank: 
Associate Professor
2816 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Laurie Frederik Meer is the author of Trumpets in the Mountains: Theater and the Politics of National Culture in Cuba, published by Duke University Press in August 2012.  The book is based on over a decade of ethnographic research, including two and a half years living in some of Cuba’s most remote mountainous areas called “zones of silence.”  While she continues to conduct research in and about Cuba, her new research investigates contemporary forms of storytelling performance, including criminal trial testimony and the narrative reconstruction of truth.  She is currently working in both U.S. and Puerto Rican courtrooms.  Dr. Frederik Meer teaches classes about the anthropology of art, subversive culture, cultural politics, national identity, censorship, creativity, ethnographic method, and performance studies (ritual, theatre, music, dance, language, sport, spectacle).


Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Chicago, 2007
B.A. Honors (MA equiv), Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town 1993
B.A., Anthropology, University of Virginia 1990
School for International Training, Kenya/Tanzania, 1990

Areas of Specialization/Interest:

Cuba, Caribbean, Latin America, African Diaspora, South Africa, anthropology of art, performance studies, ethnography, politics, nationalism, subversive culture, artistic and cultural narrative, law and legal testimony

Professional Affiliations:

Affiliate Faculty member, Anthropology
Affiliate Faculty member, Latin American Studies
Affiliate Faculty member, Ethnomusicology
Affiliate Faculty member, Women's Studies
Performance Studies International (PSi)
Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA)
American Anthropological Association (AAA)
Association for Theater in Higher Education (ATHE)
American Society for Theater Research (ASTR)

Representative Publications/Research Activities:

“True Stories and the Art of Persuasive Performance in Courtrooms of Law” (book manuscript in preparation)

“Showing Up, Showing Off: The Political and Aesthetic Economics of Heightened Performance,” co-edited volume with Catherine Schuler and Kim Marra (under review)

“Painting the Body Brown: Gender, Nation, and Artistic Authority,” article contributed to “Showing Up, Showing Off” (under review)

Trumpets in the Mountains: Theater and the Politics of National Culture in Cuba (Duke University Press, 2012)

"La Batalla for Cuban Identity: Option Zero Theater," in The Special Period: Cuban Culture and Ideology in the 1990's (Palgrave 2008)

"Playback Theatre in Cuba: the Politics of Improvisation and Free Expression" (The Drama Review 2007)

“Una Experiencia Antropologica: El Guajiro a los Cuatro Vientos,” (Revista Tablas, 2007)

"Cuba's National Characters: Setting the Stage for the Hombre Novísimo" (Journal of Latin American Anthropology 2005)

"The Contestation of Cuba's Public Sphere in National Theater and the Transformation from Teatro Bufo to Teatro Nuevo" (Gestos 2001)

 “Una mirada dento del trabajo colectivo de Teatro de los Elementos” (Conjunto: Revista de Teatro Latinamericano, April/June 2000)

Research Grants and Fellowships:

Research and Scholarship Award (RASA), UMD
General Research Board Grant (GRB), UMD
Notre Dame Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Research Fellowship
Wenner-Gren Anthropological Foundation Fellowship
Spencer Foundation Research Grant
Tinker Foundation Field Research Grant
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grant
Rotary International Graduate Ambassadorial Scholarship to South Africa

Creative Activities

4-time U.S. National Champion in Ballroom and Latin Dancesport
storyteller with Speakeasy DC and The Stoop of Baltimore
Playback Theatre practitioner
musical theater practitioner
dancer in UMD production, The Ash Girl
collaborator and actor in UMD devised production, Sandwalk