Majoring in International Studies, I focused on culture in the Middle East and North Africa, and it is there that I cultivated a deeper understanding of this region and interest in the cultural and musical fabric of its societies. I also minored in Spanish in university, and completed four years of Arabic language study – a journey that took me to programmes in Morocco and Egypt. My BA thesis was on Berber musicians and the mobilisation of tradition in the Berber culture movement.
After graduating, I worked as Music Programme Coordinator for The Nile Project, which gathers musicians from the Nile countries to learn the music of each other’s respective traditions and create original material, fostering cross-cultural dialogue. My two years with The Nile Project gave me deep insight into non-profit management and the music industry, a field I have continued to work in. Recently, I decided to return to my region of focus, and spent the past two years living in Cairo, Egypt, working as managing editor for an online platform about contemporary music in the MENA region, and artist manager for an Egyptian singer.
I’ve chosen to study ethnomusicology at Oxford because I want to use it as a lens through which I can understand the complex layers of Middle Eastern society, incorporating and respecting indigenous perspectives, and develop a basis of thorough understanding of its origins, contexts, and trajectory. Eventually I hope to document and preserve disappearing art forms and to more generally support the arts in the region.
I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity to be an Ertegun Scholar. I thrive when I have a vibrant community to share with and learn from, and at the Ertegun House, I look forward to cultivating that.