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Interview with Emily Howe: Winner of the SEM 2018 Nahumck Fellowship

Friday, October 25, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
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Interview with Emily Howe:
Winner of the SEM 2018 Nahumck Fellowship

By Jesse Fivecoate, Indiana University Bloomington



Emily Howe, a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology at Boston University, is the winner of the SEM 2018 Nadia and Nicholas Nahumck Fellowship for her dissertation project titled “Animating the Stone: Women’s Perspectives on Gender, Embodiment, Sound, and Social Change in Contemporary Cambodia.” SEM awards the Nahumck Fellowship biennially to
support research on a dance-related subject and its subsequent publication.



Howe has a background in both musical performance and conducting and a strong commitment to community-building through music. She has pursued these interests in the Boston area by teaching a course on music and culture in prisons through the Boston University Prison Education Program and by serving as a conductor for various local choral groups. In carrying out this work, she was inspired by the diverse ways in which people create meaning through music making and listening and also became interested in questions related to music, power, access, and justice. Eventually, she realized that she could examine these questions more fully in Boston University’s ethnomusicology program than through studies in choral conducting.

Howe states that she first traveled to Cambodia in 2013 with the Boston Children’s Chorus, whose mission was to encourage social change through musical practice. In Cambodia, she was struck by how artists were asking questions similar to the ones that she had been exploring back in Boston. At present, SEM’s Nahumck Fellowship is helping her to complete dissertation research in Cambodia on such topics as the embodiment of gender violence and trauma in dance, the navigation of gender identity by female hip-hop artists, and gendered philosophies of drumming.

Based on her field research, Howe developed a website with 18 audio documentaries, featuring the voices and music of women musicians and dancers. In addition, she worked with photographer Neak Sophal to create an exhibition at a gallery in Siem Reap, which included portraits and a sound installation. An article about the exhibition appeared in the Khmer Times on September 6, 2019.

Howe says that she has been inspired by the scholarship of the members of the Nahumck Fellowship Committee and is very pleased that her work has been validated through the 2018 Nahumck award.


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