Internship Project
Musicology and Media Studies

Second World Music: Latin America, East Germany, and the Sonic Circuitry of Socialism

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
Department of Musicology and Media Studies
Subject Area
Musicology, Ethnomusicology
Summer Term Internship 2022:
09 May – 29 July

Individual Timeframe Internship:
Only available in spring 2022; the dates are arranged individually according to the project's and the student's availability.

Internship Modality:
On-site internship in Berlin
Project Supervisor(s)
Dr. Sydney Hutchinson
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (at least 2nd year)
Graduate students
PhD students
English; German and/or Spanish may be useful.
Project Type
Academic Research
Project Content
While "world music" became an important musical category and commodity in the Western world in the 1980s, an incipient world music practice had already begun to take shape in the Eastern Bloc, one with very different ideologies and forms of circulation. This project looks at the globally-oriented "Festival des politischen Liedes," held in Berlin from 1970 onwards, as well as East German radio programming, artistic and scholarly exchanges, and social dancing to show how cultural and musical interchange connected diverse peoples around the socialist world, transformed musical sounds and practices and created new forms of socialist solidarity and cosmopolitan cultural formations. Drawing upon primary sources including audio recordings, film, concert and festival ephemera, transatlantic oral history interviews, and policy documents, the project focuses on one particular trajectory of musical and choreographic exchange: the one which linked the GDR and Cuba, East Germany's most important partner in the Western hemisphere – while also touching on the influences of other Latin American musical socialisms in both Germanys. After 1989, sounds of what was then termed the "Second World"-music transformed by socialist governments and their international exchanges – entered the Western world music market, some with great success. Yet to date Second World practices of international musical exchange have been left out of world music scholarship, leading to impoverished understandings of the world music phenomenon and the Cold War soundscapes, relationships, and imaginaries that form the socialist sonic circuitry. This project aims to correct the blind spot by providing a concrete example of how the Second World created and presented itself to the world as an international political/artistic movement and of its wide-ranging and highly influential cultural flows. 
The project's methodology combines oral history with archival research. Aside from the cataloged collections at locations like the German Broadcasting Archive (Potsdam), Academy of the Arts (Berlin), German Music Archive (Leipzig), and Dance Archive (Leipzig), the project makes use of uncatalogued and in part previously unknown archival materials. These include over 2000 reel-to-reel tapes containing Latin American music played on East German radio and held by the Ethnological Museum, as well as the documents of the socialist-era Research Center for Popular Music at Humboldt-Universität. Interns will be able to assist Dr. Hutchinson in her work with these unique materials. 
Tasks for Interns
Depending on the timeframe and the intern's skills, tasks may include:
  • creating a catalog or finding aide of reel-to-reel tapes from East German radio and determining how to organize the physical objects
  • assisting with the digitization of materials (scanning documentation, copying recordings)
  • creating a finding aid for uncatalogued documentation related to popular music studies in East Germany
  • assistance with tabulating data on these materials and importing data to MAXQDA
  • assistance with creating a project website
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (at least 2nd year)
Graduate students
PhD students
Familiarity with Excel and Word is essential. Also desired: any prior experience with cataloging, digitization, web design, and/or MAXQDA.
Expected Preparation
Conversation with project leader.
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For more information on the Humboldt Internship Program or the project, please contact the program coordinator.