Speculative Soundscapes: Alternative Music and Futurity in Lebanon

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  Tuesday, April 12, 2022
  12 - 1:30 p.m.
  Online via Zoom; registration is required for Zoom link
  Nour El Rayes, UCB Ethnomusicology

In the face of an increasingly dystopian Lebanon, speculative thinking has become both a basic survival tactic and a site of imaginative future-work for the country's artists, musicians, and revolutionaries. Alternative music, in particular, has played a key role in conceptualizing futures for Lebanon that resist common narratives of cyclical suffering and eternal warfare. In this lecture, I focus on two musical projects inspired by the history of Beirut’s built environment, looking at the relationship between sound, architecture, and futurity in post-rock band KOZO’s 2019 album Tokyo Metabolist Project and singer-songwriter Mayssa Jallad's solo project, Marja'. Drawing inspiration from radically different sources, these musical projects both grapple with the legacy of the 1975-1991 civil wars through the history of Beirut's postwar reconstruction, asking what might now be different had rebuilding efforts prioritized social reconciliation over financial gain.

Nour is a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at UC Berkeley, with a designated emphasis in New Media. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA in Ethnomusicology from UC Berkeley’s department of Music. Her dissertation, "Other Futures: Promises of the Alternative in Lebanese Popular Music," examines constructions of the "alternative" in music in Lebanon in order to understand its role in the creation and articulation of alternative social, political, and economic futures. Nour's work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Berkeley Center for Middle East Studies.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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