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The Senator George J.Mitchell Institute
for Global Peace, Security and Justice

'Contested Resonances' Conference 29th-30th July 2021

Sounding Citizenship: Nostalgia and Sonic Belonging within ‘Celebrating Syria’

Benedict Turner-Berry, University of Cambridge

Benedict's presentation* examines how members of the Manchester-Syrian community negotiate notions of national identity and citizenship through individual and communal sonic expressions. As Tom Western (2021) argues, sound and communal sonic practices in public and private spaces can foster complex relationships of belonging and citizenship for displaced peoples. A rich ethnography of the festival ‘Celebrating Syria’ illuminates these collective and individual sonic acts and deems them culturally important, actualising affective spaces of sonic belonging. This project’s ethnography is supported by theories of affect (Gregg and Seigworth, 2010) and nostalgia (Boym, 2001), revealing how sound exploits the liminality of belonging, realising a ‘migratory resonance’ and thereby fostering alternative citizenships through sound.

This presentation explores one case study, analysing the personal listening practices of collaborators as they negotiate processes of nostalgia. Benedict displays how, in conjunction to the physical act of migration, many collaborators carry ‘sonic souvenirs’—personal acts of listening with embedded cultural importance—that travel parallel to them. He considers how these sonic acts now frame social habits in the UK, questioning how they might enact an alternative form of nostalgia; one oriented to both past social experiences and future conceptions of Syria. Moreover, he focus on how sound provides alternative means of expressing one’s identity in the cityscape and cybersphere.

*Please note, all presentations are for academic and research viewing purposes only and cannot be posted in the public domain or used in part or full on any other media platforms or social media sites.   All rights are reserved and held by Participants. For more information regarding licensing/permisssions usage and queries, please contact our Project Manager, Christina Captieux  

The Conference was organised as part of the AHRC/ESRC funded Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research project Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation 2017-2021. 




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