Other Futures: Promises of the Alternative in Lebanese Popular Music


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Academic and journalistic work on Lebanon frames practices like music as escapist or activist responses to a reality defined by ongoing sectarian violence. In doing so, it forecloses the possibility of Lebanese futures that are not conceived in relation to violence. This project addresses this foreclosure by approaching the “alternative” in contemporary Lebanese music as a sonic and ideological orientation which enacts and articulates possible futurities for Lebanon. Through ethnographic fieldwork, it examines what musicians’ sound, performances, and discourses are conceived as alternative to. More than a generic designation, the “alternative” constitutes a site of social coherence in which sound articulates situated experiences of the present in order to construct, disrupt, and animate modalities of representing and imagining futures for Lebanon and its people.