Dr Bonnie McConnell

Senior Lecturer
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Bonnie McConnell is Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Higher Degree Research Convenor in the ANU School of Music. Her research examines music in relation to issues of health, identity, and social change in West Africa and Australia. She holds an MA and PhD in ethnomusicology with a graduate certificate in public health from the University of Washington (2015).

McConnell is the author of the monograph Music, Health, and Power: Singing the Unsayable in The Gambia (2019, Routledge). The book received an Honorable Mention for the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Kwabena Nketia Prize, which recognises the most distinguished book on music of Africa and the African diaspora published during the past three years.

McConnell’s research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Program, the American Association of University Women, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the Freilich Foundation. Her work appears in the journals EthnomusicologyAfrica Today, Social Science & Medicine, Popular Music and Society, VoicesInternational Journal of Community Music, Ethnomusicology Forum, and BMJ Open, among other publications. In 2020, McConnell was awarded the Rebecca Coyle Prize from the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (Australia-New Zealand) for her article “Afropolitan Projects: Music, Representation, and the Politics of Belonging in Australia.” The prize recognises the best paper on popular music of the Australia-New Zealand region.   

At the ANU, she teaches courses on contemporary approaches to ethnomusicology and music research methods.  

Research interests


Music, health, and wellbeing

Music and gender

Music, conflict, and development

Musics of Africa and the African diaspora

  • Sanfilippo, K, Glover, V, Cornelius, V et al. 2023, 'Expression of antenatal symptoms of common mental disorders in The Gambia and the UK: a cross-sectional comparison study', BMJ Open, vol. 13, no. 7, pp. 1-9.
  • Spiro, N, M. Sanfilippo, K, McConnell, B et al. 2023, 'Perspectives on Musical Care Throughout the Life Course: Introducing the Musical Care International Network', Music & Science, vol. 6, pp. 1-18.
  • M. Sanfilippo, K, McConnell, B, Darboe, B et al. 2023, 'The experience of maternal mental distress in The Gambia: a qualitative study identifying idioms of distress, perceptions of contributing factors and the supporting role of existing cultural practices [In press]', PLOS Global Public Health, vol. Online.
  • McConnell, B 2022, 'The Personal and the Political: African Popular Music and Diasporic Heritage in Australia', in Catherine Hoad, Geo Stahl, Oli Wilson (ed.), Mixing Pop and Politics - Political Dimensions of Popular Music in the 21st Century, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, UK.
  • McConnell, B. & Jallow, S. 2022, 'Climate Change Adaptation in The Gambia: The Role of Kanyeleng Communication and Performance', African Studies Review, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 692-716.
  • Stewart, L, McConnell, B, Darboe, B et al. 2022, 'Social singing, culture and health: interdisciplinary insights from the CHIME project for perinatal mental health in The Gambia', Health Promotion International, Volume 37, Issue Supplement_1, pp. i18–i25
  • Sanfilippo, K, McConnell, B, Cornelius, V et al. 2020, 'Community psychosocial music intervention (CHIME) to reduce antenatal common mental disorder symptoms in The Gambia: a feasibility trial', BMJ Open, vol. 10, no. 11, pp. e040287.
  • McConnell, B 2020, 'Jali popular song and conflict mediation in the aftermath of the Gambia's 2016 election', Ethnomusicology Forum, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 213-229.
  • McConnell, B 2020, Music, Health, and Power: Singing the Unsayable in The Gambia, Routledge, New York.
  • McConnell, B 2019, 'Gambia: Modern and Contemporary Performance Practice
    ', in Janet Sturman (ed.), SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture, SAGE Publications, London, pp. 976-977.
  • McConnell, B 2019, 'Gambia: History, Culture, and Geography of Music', in Janet Sturman (ed.), SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture, SAGE Publications, London, pp. 974-975.
  • Sanfilippo, K, McConnell, B, Cornelius, V et al. 2019, 'A study protocol for testing the feasibility of a randomised stepped wedge cluster design to investigate a Community Health Intervention through Musical Engagement (CHIME) for perinatal mental health in The Gambia', Pilot and Feasibility Studies, vol. 5, no. 124, pp. 1-8.
  • McConnell, B 2019, 'Afropolitan Projects: Music, Representation, and the Politics of Belonging in Australia', Popular Music and Society, vol. 42 no. 2, pp. 131-149.
  • McConnell, B 2019, 'To Bring Peace that Stays: Music, Conflict, and Conciliation in the Gambia', International Journal of Community Music, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 349-366.
  • McConnell, B 2017, 'Performing "participation": Kanyeleng musicians and global health in the Gambia', Ethnomusicology, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 312-332.
  • McConnell, B, and B Darboe. 2017, 'Music and the ecology of fear: Kanyeleng women performers and Ebola prevention in the Gambia.', Africa Today, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 28-42.
  • McConnell, B 2017, 'Book Review - Abidjan USA: Music, Dance, and Mobility in the Lives of Four Ivorian Immigrants', Journal of Folklore Research, vol. Online, pp. 2pp..
  • McConnell, B 2016, 'Music and health communication in The Gambia: A social capital approach', Social Science and Medicine, vol. 169, no. Sep 2016, pp. 132-140.
  • McConnell, B 2015, Singing the Unsayable: Female Performers and Global Health in The Gambia.
  • McConnell, B 2015, 'Performing Baadinyaa: Music, Emotion, and Health in The Gambia', Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 1-22.
  • McConnell, B 2012, 'Reflections on Love and Malaria: Agency and Control in the Wagogo Music Festival of Chamwino, Tanzania', Ethnomusicology Symposium 2012, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • McConnell, B 2011, 'HIV/AIDS Communication through the Performing Arts in Senegal', Ethnomusicology Symposium 2011, ed. Mitchel Strumpf, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, pp. 92-98.