By Emily Gold Boutilier
Mirjana “Minja” Lausevic, visiting Valentine Professor of Music at Amherst (2006-07) and associate professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, died of a recurrent illness on July 15 in Western Massachusetts.
Born and raised in the multi-ethnic city of Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia, she received her bachelor’s degree in musicology and ethnomusicology from Sarajevo University in 1988. Much of her research examined how music helped to both unite and divide ethnic groups in the Balkans.
After coming to the United States in 1991, Lausevic earned her master’s degree and doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. She published numerous articles based on her fieldwork in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and, more recently, the United States. Her book, Balkan Fascination (Oxford University Press, 2007), explores the multiple roles and meanings Balkan music has had in the United States over the past century.
Lausevic once led a traditional Bosnian vocal group named Yu-Etno. In New England, she sang and played keyboard with her group Zabe i Babe, which recorded a CD titled Drumovi (Bison Publishing) and was featured on public television’s Exploring Worlds of Music series. She was a regular member of shape-note/sacred harp singing communities in Northampton, Mass., and Minneapolis. Lausevic earlier taught at Dartmouth College.
She is survived by her husband, Tim Eriksen ’88, also a visiting Valentine Professor of Music; two children, Anja, 3, and Luka, 5; her mother; and her brother. A memorial service was held in Northampton at the end of July.