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Workshop: Roots, Diaspora, and Belonging - A Musical Exploration

13th February, 2019 @ 09:30 - 17:30

Woolf Institute, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0UB


This workshop will take place at the Woolf Institute on Wednesday 13 February 2019 between


Credit: Mohamad Hafez (

How do people maintain a sense of who they are when they are displaced, that is, when they find themselves in a new locality devoid of what gave them a sense of familiarity, security, and belonging? When you are not home, how do remember what home was like? When you are in a new place, how do you go about making it feel like home? Guided by the methods of anthropology and ethnomusicology, Roots, Diaspora, and Belonging addresses these questions through the cultural medium of music, which holds shared traditions of faith and locus. Music, a cultural domain that can exhibit performance of identification in diaspora, has been chosen for this workshop because of its ‘unique power to evoke collective emotions, signal identity, and bond or divide entire societies,’ a power that can also be harnessed to bring together diverse religious communities who share the same music (Sinnreich 2010).

The regional focus of the workshop will be the Levant, looking in particular at the Syrian and Iraqi diasporas. The workshop will feature Dr Abigail Wood, Sir Mick and Lady Barbara Davis Visiting Fellow, together with Professor Martin Stokes, Professor Dawn Chatty, Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, Dr Merav Rosenfeld-Hadad, Dr Renee Hattar, and others working in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology, archeology, and sociology.

The afternoon sessions will set the stage for both music students and musicians, as well as amateur music lovers, to explore central features of Arabic music and culture, by experiencing its sound and rhythm through the actual making of music. These sessions will combine an academic presentation by Dr Merav Rosenfeld-Hadad, an Arabic music specialist, and music playing and singing led by internationally renowned native musicians, Ahmed Mukhtar and Yair Dalal. They will offer a unique opportunity for Western and Middle Eastern musicians and music lovers to learn and better understand Arabic music.

This workshop is part of the Living in Harmony project at the Woolf Institute, which is exploring diasporic Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities from Syria and Iraq through music and memory, both individual and collective, and encounter.

The provisional workshop programme can be downloaded here.

How to book

Please register in advance on Eventbrite.

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