A conversation between anthropologist Ted Swedenburg and IPRH Mellon postdoctoral fellow Nili Belkind that will center on musical practices in conflict zones, with a focus on Palestine-Israel. Through specific ethnographic examples, the discussion will explore the ways in which geographical borders and social and ethnic boundaries shape personal geographies, cultural expression and the making of communities in a context of ongoing violence.
Focus of the conversation will be on Junction 48, a Drama directed by Udi Aloni.
A brief synopsis:
Kareem leads an aimless life between odd jobs and hanging out with his buddies in a crime-ridden Arab ghetto of the mixed city of Lyd. A family tragedy brings him closer to his singer girlfriend, Manar, and motivates him to do something more with his life. When Kareem and his group finally get a chance to perform in a Tel Aviv hip-hop club, the star potential of the 'first Arab rapper' is quickly noticed. Although he raps "I'm not political," Kareem and the group use music to express their tough life as Palestinian youth. But the road to success is never easy... Kareem and his group must face violent nationalistic Jewish rappers, government-imposed gentrification and troubled drug-dealing friends. When Manar's family threatens to harm them if she performs publicly with him, the time comes for Kareem to either surrender to conservative tradition or stand up for the woman he loves, the artist he respects...
Dr. Nili Belkind is the IPRH-Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Humanities. She grew up in Israel but spent her adult life in the United States. She spent many years working in the music industry as an album producer, A & R, record label executive and artists manager specializing in world music. After many years in the music industry she returned to school (Columbia University) to pursue a PhD in ethnomusicology. Much of her work in the music industry centered on Caribbean music genres, and her MA thesis focused on the lives and musics of prominent Haitian artists in diaspora. Her PhD dissertation is an ethnography of music making and its cultural meanings in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on 18 months of fieldwork. The dissertation highlights musical renderings of discourses of co-existence, discourses of resistance and projects of nation making. It also explores forms of expressive culture that ‘live’ in the blurry boundaries and borderzones where fixed ethno-national categories align with neither physical spaces nor individual identities. As a post-doctoral fellow with “Daat-Hamakom” (ICORE), Dr. Belkind conducted ethnographic research on music and the politics of ethnicity, nation and place making in the adjacent towns of Jaffa and Bat Yam for a chapter in a book publication.
Dr. Ted Swedenburg received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Texas in 1988. His dissertation, a study of popular memories of the 1936-39 revolt in Palestine, involved interviewing elderly peasants living in Palestinian villages in the Galilee and the West Bank. He taught at the University of Washington -Seattle between 1988 and 1991, and at the American University in Cairo from 1992 to 1996. He joined the University of Arkansas in 1996. Dr. Swedenburg's recent research focuses on popular music.