Speaking the Unspeakable: Sounds of the Middle East Conflict

My thesis searches for words where words seem inadequate in expressing the dynamic truths of an experienced conflict. I explore how a metaphoric understanding of the Middle East as an open space full of resonating sound bodies can be applied to the Middle East Conflict (MEC). Through inquiring into the experienced truths of large scale political violence, I suggest that music carries a potential for speaking such ‘unspeakable’ truths. This thesis explores hidden layers and narratives by applying the transrational approach to Peace Studies and proposes a non-territorial understanding of the MEC. It proposes that security and justice discourses make up the dominant primary themes in the context of the MEC. Support for this claim is provided in the second part of the thesis, in which the Israeli-Palestinian group, The Jerusalem Youth Chorus, and the Egyptian band Eskenderella are examined as case studies. I seek to uncover where their truths meet within and beyond the restrictions of formalized language. Vernacular music, in this case is found to carry the highest potential for elicitive conflict transformation and suggests that in moments, when singers and audience alike are guided by the energy of the moment, they are speaking a truth that is an expression of a deep resonance. This resonance can penetrate all layers of a persona, connecting the personal self to everything in one’s social space. I conclude that in such moments, there is the largest potential for fundamental, revolutionary change in the dynamics of a rigid conflict.

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My thesis research has been a challenging but certainly equally rewarding process. Instead of one semester I took an entire extra year, which for me was needed as it has helped me integrating many of the things that were triggered during my time as a student in Innsbruck. My inquiry into the complexities of the MEC through a transrational lens implied turning my attention always also towards my inner faculties as a perceiving subject and that has taken me to new and unknown territories.

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