Juan Castrillón

Scholar, media maker, performer, mentor and conceptualist. Inaugural Gilbert Seldes Multimodal Postdoctoral Fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Multimodal cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist with regional expertise in Turkey and the Northwest Amazon in Colombia. His research interests include theories of listening, media archives, contemporary healing arts, mimesis, and modalities of inscription. His work dialogues with contemporary debates about decoloniality, visual and sound/music cultures, and indigenous analytics of the person, space, magic, and technology. His multimodal work has been published in academic journals; exhibited at film festivals, art galleries, and academic conferences internationally; and distributed among local communities in indigenous languages.

He served as board member of the Society for Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA), and he is an active member of the Center for Research and Collaboration in the Indigenous Americas (CRACIA), the Substantial Motion Research Network (SMRN), and an alumnus of the Collective for Advancing Multimodal Research Arts (CAMRA at Penn). Apart from his academic career, he is a performer of Turkish Sufi Music, facilitator of a music therapy protocol, and pursues Arabic calligraphy and Ney reed-flute training under Turkish instructors.

in between

Involvement and transformation

His intellectual agenda focuses on analytics of listening and world-building practices in Anatolia, Turkey, and the Northwestern Amazon in Colombia.

The experimental ethnography he develops is a performative response to contemporary debates in the humanities about critical theory of race and gender, object-oriented ontologies, audile worlds, and indigenous analytics of media. 

His methods include collaborative projects for producing texts, films, digital archives, multimedial installations, participatory mapping, and radio.

Cemil Baştürk holding a kamış reed, Istanbul
Mauricio Correa holding pedu panpipes, Northwestern Amazon
Alchemy and talismanic inscriptions, Istanbul

Audile Worlds and Musicking Archives

The experimental ethnography I developed is a performative response to contemporary debates in the humanities about object-oriented ontologies, sensory embodiments, and indigenous analytics on media.


His scholarly work in ethnomusicology appears in peer-reviewed journals such as Revista Colombiana de Antropología e Historia (2012), Porte Akademik (2014), Oído Pensante (2017), and SEM Student News (2020). A chapter in a book about Creation and Creativity in Indigenous Lowland South America is forthcoming.

Castrillón earned his Ph.D. in Music Studies from the UPenn Department of Music with a Graduate Certificate in Experimental Ethnography from the Center for Experimental Ethnography at UPenn’s Department of Anthropology.

Films and Audiovisual Texts

My multimodal practice fosters world-shifting, and the production of micro-atmospheric instantiations of light and affect.

Musicianship and Installations

Between 2014 and 2020 he participated as a lecturer and performer of Turkish Sufi Music for UPenn Middle East Center at multiple venues across Philadelphia. His listening experiments, installations and exhibits have been exhibited at the Crane Arts Gallery in Philadelphia, and at the Arthur Ross Gallery, and Van Pelt-Dietrich Library at the University of Pennsylvania.

Community Engagement

Philadelphia Area

Sufí music recitals and lectures
CEE, MEC, UPenn Music, Van Pelt Library, Senbazuru.

Continental Networks

Discussion and reading groups about Amazonia, and Islamic Philosophy of Media

Colombia, South America

Advocacy groups and Public anthropology
Solydarydades, Covid-19 task force.

You could book me as a:

Lecturer, sound recordist, or cinematographer. Also as a juggler, performing artist, music therapist, or calligrapher.

Contact Info

juancas@sas.upenn.edu Philadelphia, USA