Thomas Kivi


Advisor: Nan Enstad
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Thomas Kivi


Hello, I’m Thomas. My primary field is modern U.S. history and my adviser is Nan Enstad. I’m one of those atypical graduate students at the same institution as I earned my BA, although this apparent continuity is deceiving. I spent the first five-years (2008-13) after graduation as a touring/recording singer-songwriter based in Minneapolis, MN, and then began graduate coursework in history at St. Louis University (2014-16) in St. Louis, MO, before arriving back in Madison. My experience with musical performance and recording practices has undoubtedly shaped my scholarly interests. My M.A. research on the political economy of ethnomusicological fieldwork in Wisconsin explored how the practice of field-recording with the phonograph in the Upper Midwest (from the 1920s through the 1940s) was entangled in the governmental production of a national “folk” culture on the eve of World War II. As the Wisconsin Folk-Music Recording Project–a coordinated effort between the music department at UW-Madison, the WPA, the Library of Congress, and the Rockefeller Foundation between 1940 and 1946–expanded the musicological category of “folksong” to include a plurality of ethnic immigrant communities, Wisconsin’s indigenous communities were largely overlooked. While Anglo-European recording folksingers in their “native environment” served to authenticate historical claims to belonging to Wisconsin, indigenous tribes like the Ho-Chunk had to challenge the long-standing musicological imagination of “folk” and “Indian” music in order to be heard. My prospective dissertation aims to further explore the political economy of American Indian performance within Wisconsin nature-tourism industry in the twentieth century (especially the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial at Wisconsin Dells), engaging scholarly discourses in sound studies, performance studies, history of capitalism, labor history, American Indian history, history of technology, and environmental history.


M.A., History (2018), University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., History/Philosophy (2008) University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • U.S./North American History

M.A. Title

  • “Governmental Phonography: Recording ‘Folk’ and ‘Indian’ Music in World War II Wisconsin”

Selected Publications

  • 9/28/2017, “An Environmental Playlist of the Twentieth Century,” Edge Effects digital magazine – Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies @ UW-Madison.
  • 5/12/2016, “Before the Movies: American Magic-Lantern Entertainment and the Nation’s First Great Screen Artist, Joseph Boggs Beale,” American Nineteenth Century History, 17 (1): 118-19.
  • 10/31/2014, “Time to Throw out the Broomstick,” Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Women’s Studies Program blog.

Courses Taught as TA

  • History 101 – North America to the Civil War
  • History 102 – U.S. History: Civil War to Present (x2)
  • History 109 – Making of the American Mind
  • ILS 201 – Western Culture: Science, Technology, and Philosophy