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Dunya Habash

Researcher and Outreach Officer

Profile

Dunya was awarded a Woolf Institute Cambridge Scholarship to commence her PhD studies in Music under Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth. Her ethnographic research will examine Syrian musicians in Turkey. Dunya hypothesizes that the Syrian cultural imaginary is shifting as a result of ‘emplacement’ into Turkish society, and that this can be illustrated through musical practices. Looking at how Syrian musicians in Turkey place themselves and how they use music to belong to an ideational community can give fresh insights into the relationships between structural forces—politics, religion, migration, economics—and inner subjectivities. Exploring how the various communities in Syria negotiate a new identity in the diaspora can not only describe Syria’s demographically rich history—for cities like Aleppo and Damascus boast centuries of cohabitation between Muslims, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, and others—but also test the strength of the ‘interfaith and cosmopolitan’ narrative of Syria’s secularist national identity. This research will build on insights that Dunya developed during her fieldwork for the Living in Harmony project at the Woolf Institute and on her MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford.

Dunya formerly joined the Woolf Institute as a Researcher and Outreach Officer for the ‘Living in Harmony’ project in March 2018. She also holds undergraduate degrees in Music and History from Birmingham-Southern College, where she embarked on her first substantive project with Syrian refugees, a documentary on Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, ‘Zaatari: Jordan’s Newest City’. That work led her to the program in Refugee Studies at Oxford and a TEDx talk in Birmingham, AL. Her interest in music continues with the organization of Damj, an ensemble formed with two other Arab heritage musicians dedicated to creating a new musical tradition out of the traditions of east and west.

Recent Publications

With Naohiko Omata and Nuha Abdo. “Integration of Resettled Syrian Refugees in Oxford: Preliminary Study in 2018” Refugee Studies Centre Working Paper Series No. 129, September 2019.

“My Hidden Misconceptions About Refugees” Refugees Deeply, 29 June 2017.

“The Study of Syrian Refugees: From the Academic to the Actual” Oxford International Relations Society Blog, 3 March 2017.

“The ‘Organized Hypocrisy’ of Western Refugee Policy” Oxford International Relations Society Blog, 17 May 2017.

“The Common Core: Explorations in Light Mysticism” Southern Academic Review, BSC 82 (2016): 28-35. 

Selected Musical Compositions and Performances

Lament for Syria
Composition and Performance, 2017
Oxford Department of International Development

Zaatari Theme (2015) and Dream (2016)
Performance, 2017
TEDxBirmingham

Other compositions here.



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