“Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation” PaCCS Project in Belfast MOMRI Director as Expert Advisor
It was truly an honor and an exciting opportunity to be invited as expert advisor to the Sounding Conflict Project. I attended the annual advisory meeting of the project at the Mitchell Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, on Nov. 1-2, 2017.
Sounding Conflict: from Resistance to Reconciliation is a four-year research project (2017-2020) initiated by Prof. Fiona Magowan, supported by a large grant from the UK government’s Arts and Humanities Research Council called Partnership in Crime, Conflict and Security (PaCCS). For a full description of the project, please visit their website at
Fiona Magowan is well-known to our readers for her keynote speech at the MOMRI Annual Conference (see here). At Queen’s University Belfast, she is Professor of Anthropology and Ethnomusicology (School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, HAPP) and a Research Fellow at The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. For an explanation of the essence of the project by Fiona, please visit https://www.qub.ac.uk/Research/GRI/mitchell-institute/Research/TRANSFORMINGCONFLICTTHROUGHSOUNDANDMUSIC.html
Four Co-Investigators lead different aspects of the project:
- Professor Pedro Rebelo (Director, Sonic Arts Research Centre), is a composer, sound artist and performer;
- Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards (HAPP) is researching counternarratives to ISIS through popular music;
- Julie Norman (Queen’s Research Fellow, Mitchell Institute) is working with music and media among Syrian and Palestinian refugees;
- Stefanie Lehner (School of Arts, English and Languages) is analyzing the dramatization in Northern Ireland theatres of issues relating to the conflict and the way different voices come into play.
- Jim Donaghey (Postdoctoral Research Associate, HAPP,) and Prof. Fiona Magowan are working with participants from the Music Bridge Programme in Northern Ireland run by Musicians without Borders to evaluate peacebuilding impacts.
For more details about the four Co-Investigators and PDRA, please visit
Sounding Conflict investigates the application and impact of diverse sound activities, including sonic arts, participatory music-making and storytelling in theatre, as well as their distribution through digital media activities. Very much in line with MOMRI’s mission to explore Music in Peacebuilding, Sounding Conflict seeks to improve community experiences, memories and narratives of conflict across cultures. In my capacity as expert advisor from MOMRI I have input to the various streams of the research which entails various Project Partners: https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/SoundingConflict/OurTeam/ProjectPartners/
The project focuses on three major aspects of conflict cycles, namely resistance, intervention and reconciliation. This is a summary of the different strands:
|1a. How are rap musicians in the Middle East trying to resist radicalization and extremism?|
|1b. How is sound art expression enhancing the resilience of Syrian refugees in a school in Turkey?|
|2. How can sonic arts improve daily life in communities, in Northern Ireland and Brazil?|
|3a. What are the effects of Musicians Without Borders’ programmes in Northern Ireland and Palestine?|
|3b. How are four theatre companies in Belfast trying to improve community life?|
|At the end of the project, a Sonic Finale will be organized to bring together all the different strands through a sound and music installation in Derry (Northern Ireland) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).|
I had several opportunities, during the conference on Nov. 1-2 and throughout my stay in Belfast until Nov. 11, to hold in-depth discussions with many of the participants, and to discuss further collaboration with MOMRI. Some are already mentioned above, Prof. Fiona Magowan, Prof. Pedro Rebelo, Dr. Julie Norman, Dr. Jim Donaghey and Dr. Stefanie Lehner.
In addition, from Musicians Without Borders, Laura Hassler (Founder and Director) and Meaghan Hughes (Project Management and Communications); from the Belfast theater company Tinderbox, Patrick O’Reilly (Artistic Director). And from Sounding Conflict, Christina Captieux (Project Manager and Administrator).
To Wrap Up a very meaningful stay in Belfast,
I had an opportunity to teach a class in the context of Prof. Magowan’s course titled “Performance, Power and Passion.” The course is taught in collaboration with Dr. Theodore Konkouris, and my presentation was titled “Thinking Outside the Boombox: some critical skills to explore the application of music in peacebuilding activities.”
The 10 students attending the class, and some additional guests, thoroughly engaged with the material and presented their own examples and case-studies.
The interactive part of the class turned into a workshop and we had to find a place nearby to continue a very lively session.
I would like to thank all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this visit possible, and all the people in Belfast that are part of a developing collaboration with MOMRI, especially QUB, HAPP and the Mitchell Institute.