Palestinian Music and Song

Palestinian Music and Song

Expression and Resistance since 1900
Edited by Moslih Kanaaneh, Stig-Magnus Thorsén, Heather Bursheh, and David A. McDonald
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/17/2013
ISBN: 978-0-253-01113-8
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Drawing from a long history of indigenous traditions and incorporating diverse influences of surrounding cultures, music in Palestine and among the millions of Palestinians in diaspora offers a unique window on cultural and political events of the past century. From the perspective of scholars, performers, composers, and activists, Palestinian Music and Song examines the many ways in which music has been a force of representation, nation building, and social action. From the turn of the 20th century, when Palestine became an exotic object of fascination for missionaries and scholars, to 21st-century transnational collaborations in hip hop and new media, this volume traces the conflicting dynamics of history and tradition, innovation and change, power and resistance.

Author Bio

Stig-Magnus Thorsén is Professor Emeritus of Music and Society at the Academy of Music and Drama, Gothenburg University. His books include Music and Identity: Transformation and Negotiation and Social and Political Features of Music in Africa.

Moslih Kanaaneh is a social anthropologist in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Birzeit University. His books include Talking Stones and Yearning Ruins.

Heather Bursheh is a performing musician and flute instructor at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, where she has also served as Deputy Director for Academic Affairs and Musical Director of the Palestine Orchestras.

David A. McDonald is Assistant Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington and author of My Voice Is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance.


"This is a book in which we see Palestinian music making Palestinian history. Crucial reading on resistance, with timely contributions by an impressive gathering of scholars, musicians, activists and organizers." —Martin Stokes, King's College London

"This monumental contribution to Palestinian studies bridges the work of practitioners and scholars to make available rare oral histories, offer insights onto contemporary musical life, and redress issues of indigeneity and cultural resistance. Impressive in its scope and depth, the anthology’s organizational structure enlivens debates between scholars while providing an historical apparatus for better understanding conditions of postcoloniality. It is an indispensable resource for those interested in Middle Eastern folklore, music, history, and politics." —
Journal of Folklore Research

"Overall, this book is a highly worthwhile read. With its variety of formats, it is appropriate for public libraries as well as academic ones." —Fontes Artis Musicae

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Table of Contents

Introduction Palestinian Music: Surviving in Song Moslih Kanaaneh

Part 1: Background
1. Palestinian Song, European Revelation, and Mission Rachel Beckles Willson
2. A Musical Catastrophe: the direct impact of the Nakba on Palestinian musicians and musical life Nader Jalal and Issa Boulos interviewed by Heather Bursheh
3. Negotiating the Elements: Palestinian Freedom Songs from 1967 to 1987 Issa Boulos

Part 2: Identity
4. Transgressing Borders with Palestinian Hip Hop Janne Louise Andersen
5. Performing Self: Between Tradition and Modernity in the West Bank Sylvia Alajaji
6. Realities for a Singer in Palestine Reem Talhami interviewed by Heather Bursheh
7. Identity, Diaspora and Resistance in Palestinian Hip Hop Randa Safieh

Part 3: Resistance
8. Performative Politics: Folklore and Popular Resistance during the First Palestinian Intifada David A. McDonald
9. Hamas’ Musical Resistance Practices: Perceptions, Production, and Usage Michael Schulz and Carin Berg
10. Palestinian Music: Between Artistry and Political Resistance Stig-Magnus Thorsén
11. The Ghosts of Resistance: Dispatches from Palestinian Art and Music Yara El-Ghadban and Kiven Strohm