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Catherine M. Appert, PhD


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Oxford University Press, December 2018

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In the twenty-first century, Senegalese hip hop--"Rap Galsen"--has reverberated throughout the world as an exemplar of hip hop resistance in its mobilization against government corruption during a series of tumultuous presidential elections. Yet Senegalese hip hop's story goes beyond resistance; it is a story of globalization, of diasporic movement and memory, of imagined African pasts and contemporary African realities, and of urbanization and the banality of socio-economic struggle. At particular moments in Rap Galsen's history, origin narratives linked hip hop to a mythologized Africa through the sounds of indigenous oralities. At other times, contrasting narratives highlighted hip hop's equally mythologized roots in the postindustrial U.S. inner city and African American experience. As Senegalese youth engage these globally circulating narratives, hip hop performance and its stories negotiate their place in a rapidly changing world. 


In Hip Hop Time explores this relationship between popular music and social change, framing Senegalese hip hop as a musical movement deeply tied to both indigenous performance practices and changing social norms in urban Africa. Author Catherine Appert takes us from Senegalese hip hop's beginnings among cosmopolitan youth in Dakar's affluent neighborhoods in the 1980s, to its spread throughout the city's ghettoized working class neighborhoods in the mid- to late-'90s, and into the present day, where political activism and hip hop musicality vie for position in local and global arenas. An ethnography of the inextricability of musical and social meaning in hip hop practice, In Hip Hop Time charts new intellectual territory in the scholarship of African and global hip hop.


"Appert's In Hip Hop Time is a riveting and deeply revelatory exploration of Hip Hop in Senegal, bristling with theoretical insights on Hip Hop, music, and globalization. Appert grapples with Hip Hop mythologies and methodologies, while successfully navigating the tensions between ethnography and musical analysis in refreshingly honest and rigorous ways that will benefit scholars across fields; this book is a wonderful addition to the Hip Hop Studies canon!" --H. Samy Alim, UCLA, David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences

"In this fine-grained musical ethnography, Catherine Appert samples, quotes and replays insights from Senegalese rappers to construct a beautifully layered analysis about collective memory, diaspora and locality, that also contests the triumphal myth of rap's political agency by identifying its limits. Highly recommended!" --Kelly Askew, Professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican & African Studies, University of Michigan

"Appert drops the beat on current ethnomusicology. Rigorously researched, and written in a prose that flows, In Hip Hop Time explores Rap Galsen's dialogic imagination, re-mixing storytelling and analysis to interrogate the myths that make ethnography and its subjects." --Ryan Skinner, Associate Professor, Music and African American and African Studies, Ohio State University



In Hip hop Time



Catherine M. Appert is associate professor of ethnomusicology at Cornell University. She holds a PhD in ethnomusicology and a graduate credential in women's studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on popular music in Senegal, The Gambia, and West African immigrant communities in the United States.

Appert's published and in-progress work foregrounds questions of globalization, migration, and diaspora, the ethnographic study of musical genre, feminist and urban ethnography, popular music and gender, and the intersections of music and memory. Her 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 EthnomusicologyAfrica, and New Literary History, and she presents regularly at conferences of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Anthropological Association, the African Studies Association, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.


Appert 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 global hip hop cultures, African and African diasporic musics, postcolonial theory, music and immigrant experience, and ethnographic theory, methods, and writing.




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

Peer Reviewed Articles

2017. “Engendering Musical Ethnography.” Ethnomusicology 61(3):446-67 Access

2016. “Locating Hip Hop Origins: Popular Music and Tradition in Senegal.” Africa 86(2):237-62 Access


2016. “On Hybridity in African Popular Music: The Case of Senegalese Hip Hop.” Ethnomusicology 60(2): 279-99  Access

2015.  “To Make Song without Singing: Hip Hop and Popular Music in Senegal.” New Literary History 46(4): 759-74 Access

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