Sarah Bryden (She/Her)

Student, Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Latin American Studies Linguistics Music

Area of Expertise


I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English Serbian Spanish

My hobbies/interests are:

Foreign languages Music Reading

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes



Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 23, 2023
Replying to Kelly Aika Yoshimura
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

In my research, there are factors that I hadn't considered as influences in why people do or don't join race/ethnicity-based clubs, specifically political differences within the same group, this has been an interesting point to come up throughout my interviews. There are a lot of institutional and systemic issues that have also limited club participation that impacted students on a more intense level which has geared my focus slightly toward how institutions such as Columbia play an indirect role in promoting inclusivity within student organizations. 

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

Sage research has been a valuable tool as I understand qualitative data gathering as it pertains to conducting ethical interviews and assuring that my questions and responses remain as unbiased and neutral as I can. This has been foundational in my research since it focuses on recognizing various nuances and contextualizing greater communities without drawing broad generalizations.

I really relate to your first answer about not initially considering politics. As I research, I'm finding that government policies, especially about linguistic rights and language education, can make a huge difference in the art that is produced in an Indigenous language. It's very interesting to think about the role that politics/law/government can play (even in the most indirect way) in personal expressions of identity.

Jun 23, 2023

1. Initially, I had framed my project around code-switching and the idea that when the rappers were changing languages, they were making a "switch" between two separate ways of speaking. Increasingly, however, my reading is leading me to think of multilingualism as part of one unified code. So for example, if a person speaks Maya and Spanish, they navigate the world with a distinct Maya-Spanish code that is always present, even if they are only using one language at a time. Thinking of multilingualism this way makes a lot more sense in the context of my project, because in almost all of the songs, rappers are combining both languages to tell a unified story. Also, particularly for the rappers who are natively bilingual, their speech/rapping/singing in both languages is actually "marked" as bilingual (with distinct pronunciations, for instance). 

2. Many of the resources we learned about in the beginning of the program, like Zotero and CLIO, have been very helpful. Surprisingly, I've also learned a lot about how the music is perceived from reading YouTube comments. I definitely didn't expect for this to be such a helpful way of collecting information, but reading through them tells me a lot about who is listening to a particular song (where they are from, what languages they speak, whether they understand the lyrics, etc.). 

Jun 17, 2023
Replying to Rojeh Dayan

1. I hope to produce and theorize my findings from my research in some form of a write up, whether that be in the form of a paper or not. This research topic has various aspects that can be analyzed, and so I hope to continue to research this topic throughout my academic journey, possibly by taking classes or by conducting independent research later on.

2. By researching Jewish Iranian-American assimilation and the formation of a dual identity, we can come to better understand assimilation, and thus this research is crucial for fostering inclusive and cohesive communities. It can also provide a glimpse into the psychological and social processes involved in developing an identity. Additionally, this may provide insight into the experiences of other cultural groups facing similar challenges, having important implications in the areas of cultural integration and identity formation across communities. Lastly, understanding the factors that influence assimilation can allow for better policy development and can guide initiatives more advantageously. All this compels me, especially because I come from this community and therefore I would love to learn more about it and contribute to it.

I appreciate your comment about the formation of a dual identity, because I've noticed a similar theme in my own project, although it is not a product of assimilation as much as colonization. It would be so cool to learn about how those processes are intertwined, and how they affect identity formation similarly/differently. I can't wait to hear about your results!

Jun 15, 2023

1. By the end of the six weeks, I plan to have an annotated bibliography and a well-organized document with all the translated lyrics. I plan to write a paper in the future, because I think doing so would help me organize my thinking, and would also let me share my work more efficiently with people. It also feels like the more I learn about my topic, the more questions I have, so I would definitely love to continue working on my project throughout the year. For example, interviews with rap artists and rap fans would be incredibly helpful. Also, there are so many interesting elements of the music that I'm intentionally de-prioritizing right now in order to focus on the lyrics, such as the accompanying music videos. Looking more closely at these elements is a bit outside the scope of a six-week project, but would definitely be rewarding in the future. 

2. My research topic connects to several broader sociopolitical issues, most clearly a global trend of Indigenous hip hop, which is happening all across the Americas, as well as in Asia, Australia, and even some European countries. Often, this music is a highly political mode of self-expression tied to issues of language preservation/revitalization, sovereignty and land back movements, systemic injustices and violence, and the cultivation of pride in Indigenous identity. Maya and Quechua hip hop both serve as examples of grassroots efforts to handle these issues, and so are important to consider as we move towards a more equitable/just future. 

Jun 10, 2023
Replying to Benjamin Oren Goldman

. My research project seems pretty devoid of ethical implications, issues or otherwise. However, after further thought, I realized that the methods I use are deeply rooted in some of the fundamental ethical issues facing modern society. Nearly all of my analysis is done on computer processors, whose production involves human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and exploitative politics. Sustainably sourced computer processors are virtually nonexistent, so my project, in part, rests upon such abuses. I am not sure how to respond to this issue.

2. One significantly helpful perspective shift I employ in my project is that of taking the perspective of a particle of fluid. For example, when imagining myself as a molecule of fluid in my experiment, I can better visualize the forces that act on it in a way that simply seeing the equations of motion would not. This perspective has helped me to qualitatively understand important laws and concepts for which I lack some expected background knowledge.

Your second comment is very interesting to me, because I'm using a similar kind of thinking in my project as well. I'm of course not imagining myself as a molecule, but it is important for me to think about how different audiences might react to the music I'm looking at.

Jun 08, 2023

1. Translating the song lyrics I'm studying has introduced some interesting ethical questions/concerns. Music is self-expression, and it can be difficult to retain the personal elements of a song in a typed-out transcription, and even more difficult to do so after the lyrics have been translated (especially when the choice to sing or rap in an Indigenous language is often so personally significant). Also, there is the issue of prejudices about Indigeneity, rap music, and Latin America. I'm grappling with the question of how to present my information in a relatively objective way, despite misconceptions people might have. I'm also trying to be mindful of preconceived notions that I might have which would affect my research or presentation. 

2. Reading secondary sources has exposed me to quite a few differing viewpoints, especially around questions more centered on present-day Indigenous identity. This has been interesting to me, and I think will be important to include in my final presentation/report to emphasize how Indigeneity is not a monolith. My faculty mentor has also recommended me many books which step outside of the context of Mexico or Peru, and I expect these will be a helpful way to broaden my perspective on my research question.

Jun 02, 2023
Replying to Sively de los Santos

Because the trainings/discussions we had last week covered many disciplines, I was able to gain exposure to the affairs or tenets of different fields. As a student who is undecided in major, it was interesting to learn about fields that I don't get to engage in or don't know much about ex. 3D printing. 

From last weeks discussions the idea of engaging with feedback remains front and center for me. I am not conducting an individual research project but, instead, I'm working on a faculty member's research project that has been ongoing before me and will continue after me. This week, while working on the project, I've been exposed to new methods or strategies of conducting research that I wasn't familiar with but, the knowledge of that difference has helped me gain access to more information/sources than I would have before. 

I completely agree about it being interesting to learn about fields outside of your own! I've already been exposed to so many new topics, questions, and ideas. Not only has this enriched my own research, but it's also been so enjoyable. Also, your comment about engaging with feedback really resonates with me, since asking for help/feedback this week has been very nerve-wracking. 

Jun 02, 2023

1. So far, hearing about the wide range of projects people are working on has helped me clarify the methodology for my own project. For instance, when my grad student mentor led a meeting this week, a few people explained how they were incorporating quantitative analysis into the qualitative aspects of their research, like interviews. Their explanations made me realize that doing something similar could help me in my project as well.

2. Because I'm starting to accumulate many sources, I've found that the discussions about Zotero and bias have both been very relevant. I had never heard of Zotero before last week, and it has been such a helpful way to organize what I read. Keeping potential biases in mind has been valuable when reading secondary sources. It's also been very important to consider bias when working on translating song lyrics, since it is sometimes difficult to come up with English words that match the bias, or lack of bias, conveyed by the original.