Nouria Bah ‘11 has traveled the globe—literally—in pursuit of her anthropology major and ethnomusicology minor. It began with a study abroad program in South Africa and culminated in a prestigious internship at Smithsonian Folkways in Washington, DC.
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. Nouria is working within Folkway’s mission: “supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound.”
“There’s a vast amount of music at Smithsonian Folkways, and I’m learning how the staff has used what they love in their work—and how to apply my love of ethnomusicology to the real world,” says Nouria. “It’s opening up a lot of doors for me.”
Nouria worked with the college’s Career Center and applied for the internship with help from Professor Jonathan McCollum, assistant professor of music, who has consulted for Smithsonian Folkways.
As an intern, Nouria works directly with the marketing, sales and online teams, as well as with the associate director on projects related to licensing and royalties. “Marketing has included sending out promo CDs, writing abstracts plus archiving and documenting track names,” Nouria explains.
Preparing for “Muslim World Music Day” has allowed her to access databases for a live online collaborative program with libraries, cultural organizations, collectors, fans, scholars, artists and the recording industry. The goal is to catalog and celebrate Muslim music.
“This internship at Smithsonian Folkways has introduced me to career opportunities related to cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology,” Nouria says.
Nouria’s interest in music and international relations first led her to a Washington College exchange program at Rhodes University in South Africa where she studied anthropology and ethnomusicology her sophomore year.
As a junior, Nouria traveled to Peru for a month-long summer program, “Ethnomusicology and Andean Cultural Project,” where she studied the changing use of instruments and electronics in three distinct cultural-geographical areas of that country.
Finally, she chose to study the prominence of hip-hop through artists, producers and fans in Senegal, Africa (where her parents had relocated) for her Senior Capstone project, entitled “The Effects of Colonization & Globalization on Hip-Hop in Senegal.”
From Africa to her latest internship, Nouria has learned she can go almost anywhere from here.