Past Event

Colloquium: Nili Belkind (Hebrew University of Jerusalem-Tel Aviv University) Cultural Intimacy across the Palestinian-Arab-Jewish-Israeli Binary"

November 3, 2022
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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The Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University is pleased to announce a public colloquium talk featuring Dr. Nili Belkind (Hebrew University of Jerusalem/Tel Aviv University), a PhD alumna of our program and the the author of Music in Conflict: Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Aesthetic Production (Routledge 2021).

Dr. Belkind will speak on: 
Cultural Intimacy across the Palestinian/Arab-Jewish/Israeli binary: Jowan Safadi’s Music Video “To Be an Arab” 

Thursday Nov 3, 2022 4PM
701C Dodge Hall (The Center for Ethnomusicology) Columbia Univ Morningside Campus Broadway at 116th St
Reception to follow
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. (Please be vaccinated and prepared to wear a mask.)
Contact [email protected] for more information or specific accommodations

Abstract: The century-plus old conflict between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian national movement has greatly contributed to the propping of collective imaginations in which “Arab” and “Jew” have been framed as polar-opposites. This polarity has sustained national narratives and ideologies, attendant historiographies, and international interventions seeking to bring an end to the conflict in Palestine-Israel—all of which are based on the axiom of separation between Palestinian/Arab and Israeli/Jew.

Popular culture—especially music—offers us numerous examples from which to critique this myth of insularity, to analyze the violence and racism embedded in the sociopolitical structures that serve to uphold it, and to construct new frameworks for interventions in a protracted ethnonational conflict. Through a focus on Jowan Safadi’s “To Be an Arab” as a prominent case study, Dr. Belkind will unpack how cultural intimacy and ethnonational violence are intertwined in Palestine-Israel; delineate how local heterogeneities (classed, ethnicized, gendered) and complex regional affiliations complicate what is commonly read in terms of an Arab/Palestinian-Jewish/Israeli binary, and underscore the creative, emotive, interventive and subversive potentials that expressive culture and performance bring to this context.

Speaker Bio: Nili Belkind holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Columbia University. She is currently a research associate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Musicology Department and an adjunct instructor at Tel Aviv University. Nili is the author of Music in Conflict: Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Aesthetic Production (Routledge 2021), which won the International Council of Traditional Music (ICTM) 2022 Best Book Prize. Her current research projects include a focus on African migrant-musicians in the US in the 1960s-1970s (with Dr. Ofer Gazit) and an ethnohistorical project (with Prof. Edwin Seroussi) focused on the archive of Azuri Effendi/Ezra Aharon—an Iraqi-Jewish musician who headed the Iraqi delegation to the First Congress of Arab Music (1932) held in Cairo and had moved to Palestine in 1934. This archive offers numerous lines of inquiry Nili has published extensively on a variety of topics, including music and international diplomacy, social movements, diasporic imaginaries, urban regeneration, and more in Ethnomusicology Journal, Current Musicology, Middle Eastern Journal of Culture and Communication, Arts and International Affairs and elsewhere.