EUME Berliner Seminar
Wed 10 May 2023 | 17:00–18:30

Musical Remains and Songs in Syrian Prisons and Exile

Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP / EUME Fellow), Chair: Lidia Kuzemska (Prisma Ukraïna Fellow 2022-23)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

This project seeks to closely study singing and music both in and out of Syrian prisons and in exile, and to understand how music is used to cope with imprisonment and as an act of resilience and resistance in prison and outside of it. Moreover, the research traces the course of singing and music (in prisons, out of prisons, and outside of Syria – exile) with the displacement of hundreds of former Syrian political prisoners to Europe from the 1980s to the present, from the Hama Massacre in 1982 to the Syrian Protests in 2011. This is explained by a transfer of cultural practices happening among different places and peoples (Said 1983, Greenblatt et al. 2010, Cohen & Serkici 2011). As such, this research aims at (1) structuring and constituting new frames and schemes for a new musical genre of “prison songs” in Syria that does not exist in the cultural field now, (2) studying the cultural practices of singing and music, their (re)-performances in and out of prison, their consumption and production, (3) dealing with music and singing as “lieux de mémoire” as memorial objects that bridge a traumatic past with a hard present, and newness and futurity represented by re-making and re-performing a new exile through music, and (4) re-constructing, reviving, and remaking prison songs, their lyrics and prison musical instruments through extensive fieldwork among survivors by building a musical digital archive. Music of the diaspora and from prison illustrates new schemes and instruments for survivors that can contribute to (de)-construct the imaginary and imagination of homeland or exile, connecting an already finished musical act performed in the past in a prison with a new re-performed one in the present and in exil.

Eylaf Bader Eddin studied English, Arabic and Comparative Literature in Damascus, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Marburg. From 2004 to 2009, he studied English language and literature at the University of Damascus. He received his MA in 2014 from the University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis (Paris 8) for his thesis entitled “(Un)-Translating Slogans of the Syrian Revolution.” From 2015 to 2020, he studied in the Cotutelle doctoral program of the University of Aix-Marseille and Philipps-Universität Marburg. His doctoral dissertation is entitled “Translating the Language of the Syrian Revolution 2011-2012.” In 2021, he is a post-doctoral researcher in the DFG-funded research group “Figures of Thought | Turning Points” at Philipps-Universität Marburg. Currently, he is a research associate of the research project SYRASP and a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

Lidia Kuzemska is a sociologist with an interdisciplinary interest in forced migration, internal displacement, borders, and citizenship. In 2022, she received her PhD from Lancaster University (UK). Her dissertation was entitled “‘Don’t Be Afraid of Our Citizens’: Internally Displaced People Encounter Bordering and Othering in Ukraine” and it focused on the counter-hegemonic citizenship practices of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 2014–2016. Lidia also holds an MA in Economy and Society from Lancaster University (UK), an MA in European Studies from the College of Europe (Belgium and Poland), and an MA in Sociology from Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Ukraine). Lidia is a co-managing editor of the Refugee Review journal (part of the Emerging Scholars and Practitioners on Migration Issues network). She is also a research affiliate at the Internal Displacement Research Programme (SOAS University of London) and a peer-reviewer for the Knowledge Platform and Connection Hub (UN Network on Migration). She is 2022/23 Prisma Ukraïna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien.


Please note that the Berliner Seminar will take place on-site at the Forum Transregionale Studien. We kindly ask for prior registration via eume(at) Depending on approval by the speaker(s), the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available on SoundCloud.

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