Lauren Eldridge received her PhD from the Department of Music at the University of Chicago in the spring of 2016 after defending her dissertation, titled "Playing Haitian: Musical Negotiations of Nation, Genre, and Self." A study of intercultural leisure participation in the genres of folklore and classical music, Playing Haitian profiles the experiences of Haitian staff and students, as well as foreign volunteers at annual summer music camps located in urban and rural Haiti. Much ethnomusicological research on Haiti emphasizes popular music genres such as konpa and rap kreyòl, overlooking the foundation provided by youth music education. Broader academic research often ignores leisure and cultural activities, in part due to the media refrain titling Haiti “the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.” Her research demonstrates that contrary to this echoing discourse, Haitian musicians and their audiences prioritize recreational activities and affirm themselves by cultivating robust cultural identities.
This depiction of the ways in which race, class, and gender impact music-making reflects Lauren's interdisciplinary interests. She has been published in the Journal of Haitian Studies, Callaloo, and the CBMR Digest. She has taught in the music departments of UChicago and Columbia College Chicago, guest lectured at Indiana University and Spelman College, and performed Haitian piano repertoire both in Haiti and across the U.S. In addition to a dissertation fellowship jointly supported by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago, she also held the MMUF Dissertation Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Howard Mayer Brown Fellowship from the American Musicological Society. Lauren graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude with a B.A. in Music and International Studies from Spelman College, and also holds a M.A. in Music from the University of Chicago. She is currently the Senior Programs Coordinator at the UNCF/Mellon Programs, a suite of fellowships that enhance both faculty and student experience.