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Catherine M. Appert

Associate Professor

Photograph of Catherine Appert

Lincoln Hall, Room 108
cma249@cornell.edu

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles
  • Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Website(s)

Overview

Catherine M. Appert holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology with a graduate certificate in Women's Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

 Her research on popular music in Senegal and The Gambia centers on questions of globalization, migration, and diaspora, the ethnographic study of musical genre, popular music and gender, and the intersections of music and memory. Other research interests include feminist and urban ethnography; global hip hop cultures; and African, Atlantic, and postcolonial studies. Her book, In Hip Hop Time: Music, Memory, and Social Change in Urban Senegal was published in December 2018 on Oxford University Press.

Appert’s research has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies with the Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Program, , the UCLA International Institute, the Cornell Humanities Council, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the President’s Council of Cornell Women. Her articles appear in Ethnomusicology, Africa, and New Literary History, and she has chapters forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Protest Music and  Rap Français:  Hip Hop Music and Culture in the Francophone World. She has presented her research at numerous annual meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Anthropological Association, the African Studies Association, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. She was awarded the Charles Seeger Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2011, and received the SEM Popular Music Section’s Richard Waterman Prize for her 2016 article, “On Hybridity in African Popular Music: The Case of Senegalese Hip Hop.” Her 2017 article, "Engendering Ethnomusicology," received an honorable mention for the Marcia Herndon Prize, which recognizes exceptional work in the ethnomusicology of sexuality and gender. 

At Cornell, she teaches courses on hip hop aesthetics and performance, global hip hop cultures, African and African diasporic musics, postcolonial theory, migration and globalization, and ethnographic theory, methods, and writing.

Catherine M. Appert, associate professor in the Department of Music, holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology with a graduate certificate in Women's Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her book, In Hip Hop Time: Music, Memory, and Social Change in Urban Senegal was published in 2018 on Oxford University Press. Appert’s research on hip hop and reggae in Senegal, The Gambia, and West African immigrant communities explores questions of globalization, migration, and diaspora, the ethnographic study of musical genre, popular music and gender, and the intersections of music and memory. Her work has been supported by Fulbright, the American Council for Learned Societies with the Mellon Foundation, the UCLA International Institute, the Cornell Humanities Council, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the President’s Council of Cornell Women. Appert’s articles appear in Africa, Ethnomusicology, and New Literary History, and have garnered several awards, including the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Waterman Prize for popular music research and an honorable mention for its Marcia Herndon prize for work on sexuality and gender.

Research Focus

Atlantic Currents: Music and Memory in the New African Diaspora

Atlantic Currents: Music and Memory in the New African Diaspora is a multi-sited ethnographic study of how Senegambian reggae and hip hop artists, in their countries of origin and as immigrants in the United States, craft shifting and strategic memories of transatlantic movements through musical performance. Musics of the African diaspora have a long history in Senegambia. Since the 70s, reggae and hip hop in particular have generated spoken and musical narratives of diasporic Blackness, circumventing national borders to narrate global connection and belonging. In turn, Afro-Americans traveling to Senegambia in search of cultural roots have often connected with local populations through these global diasporic musics. As Africans immigrants in the West confront prejudicial systems of racial categorization, the performance of musics that they have previously encountered and valued as Black musics provides a unique perspective on overlapping historic and contemporary African diasporas.

Atlantic Currents will situate these musical connections within the material conditions of contemporary life that stem from the earlier relationships of extraction and exploitation that propelled the historic African diaspora; namely, imperialism and the transatlantic slave trade. As non-Whiteness and outsiderness are increasingly conflated and threatened with violence and expulsion in the United States and Europe, music and its performative associations with identity intersect with—and provide alternative, grounded perspectives on—the economic and political frame-works that guide anthropological studies of globalization and migration. Musical currents—their direction and force, but also their outages and blockages, the places and moments where they stop, stutter, and transform—may therefore help us think through the most pressing social issues of our time.

Keywords

hip hop, rap galsen, Senegal, rap, mbalax, Senegalese hip hop, ethnomusicology, musical ethnography, gender and fieldwork 

Departments/Programs

  • Music
  • Society for the Humanities

Graduate Fields

  • Music

Publications

Monograph 

2018. In Hip Hop Time: Music, Memory, and Social Change in Urban Senegal. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Refereed Journal Articles

  • 2017. "Engendering Musical Ethnography." Ethnomusicology 61(3):446-67.
  • 2016. "On Hybridity in African Popular Music: The Case of Senegalese Hip Hop." Ethnomusicology 60(2):279-99.
  • 2016. "Locating Hip Hop Origins: Popular Music and Tradition in Senegal." Africa 86(2):237-62.
  • 2015. "To Make Song without Singing: Hip Hop and Popular Music in Senegal." New Literary History 46(4):759-74.