“My Piano Is My Homeland”: Music, Activism, and Syrian Civil War

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:20
Oral Presentation
S. Ali MOSTOLIZADEH, University of Waterloo, Canada
Music is an ‘abstract machine’ that can construct new forms of reality (Deleuze & Guattari, 1988). Music either as a collective space to negotiate identity (Byrd, 2014), or a platform to resist the dominant regimes (Saada-Ophir, 2006), or a liminal space to fill gaps between ideals and realities (Stokes, 1998), is a “memory bank” for decoding people’s stories (Chatwin, 1987, p. 120). This study unfolds narratives of war, displacement, and migration induced by Syrian Civil War through analyzing the songs of Ayham Ahmad, a Palestinian-Syrian musician, composer, and activist who fled the war in Syria. Focusing on Ayham’s songs and musical life from Syria to Germany and applying narrative inquiry for representing the second-hand data from social media, the purpose of this study is to unpack the ways Syrian civil war has formed Ayham’s music and how he has used his songs as a means of activism. This research contextualizes the songs and connects them to Ayham's experience of life in war and as a refugee in Germany. The findings suggest the significance of music for being politically active and creating productive spaces for refugees or those who are living under precarious situation caused by war or conflicts.


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