Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Dueling Nativities: Appropriating Music Across Enemy Lines

Amy Horowitz.

Why do enemies suspend their animosity and link arms across political, religious, and national divides at concerts that take place outside of the war zone itself? Is there in this moment of seeming rapprochement a window of opportunity that can lead toward dialogue and even toward resolution between the worlds of shared aesthetics and musical motifs? I explore the shared music traditions of Israeli Jews from Islamic lands and Muslim and Christian Arabs and asks whether we can learn anything from the reverberations of the music itself, the quarter tonality in which notes bend and waver, the notes within notes alien to a western ear. The paper focuses on a Moroccan Israeli woman singer, Zahava Ben who performs the repertoire of the greatest Arab singer of the 20th century, Egyptian Muslim singer Um Kulthum for audiences in Southern France, Nablus, Tel Aviv, and the border opening between Israel and Jordan.


Amy Horowitz  (United States)
Research Fellow
Melton Center for Jewish Studies and Mershon Center for International Security and Public Policy
The Ohio State University

Amy Horowitz is Director of Roadwork: Center for Cultures in Disputed Territories and a research fellow at the Ohio State University. She studies music in war zones, especially situations in which music crosses borders between political enemies. She has published several articles on Israeli Mediterranean Music and the music of Israeli Jews who migrated from Arab lands.

  • Music
  • Dispute resolution
  • Cultural border crossings

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)