This curated list of resources is intended to provide university-level music and dance educators with relevant sources for understanding, contextualizing, and teaching Palestinian cultural practices. 

Prior to the latest intensification in Gaza, several Palestinian organizations created toolkits, teaching materials, curricula, and curated lists of accessible films, music, dance, theatre, poetry, literature, and visual art. Please find these now updated resources in the first section of this document, along with a list of active Palestinian musicians living within and outside of Palestine.

The rest of the resources listed here are organized for university music and dance educators wishing to address Palestine in their classrooms in light of the recent escalation in Gaza. Think of this page as a starting point for understanding the role of music, dance, sound, and performance in Palestinian everyday life, resistance, and cultural practice in Palestine and elsewhere. Resources include articles and manuscripts, documentaries and feature films, musical recordings and transcripts, and online archives. They also include suggestions for how to facilitate discussions of difficult topics, negotiate potentially contentious issues, and how to support students vulnerable to Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and antisemitism in the classroom and on campus. We also include materials developed for a SAMR-led curricular webinar on “Teaching Palestine.” These curricular materials include detailed lesson plans, sample assignments, and top tips and strategies developed by university educators with extensive experience teaching Palestine in the university classroom.

As ethnomusicologists, we are keenly aware of the particular insights that the study of music and dance can offer into the histories, values, politics, and daily practices of a people or culture. The study of Palestinian cultural practices is an essential perspective for understanding the conflict. Palestinians have continuously engaged with music, dance, and other performing arts as methods of expressing themselves, fostering joy and belonging, sharing oral history, preserving communal memory and heritage, and mobilizing political action. This effort is made in support of Palestinians and to promote complex understandings of Palestinian perspectives, social life, and cultural practices.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but an entry to understanding the scope of literature on music and adjacent cultural practices among Palestinians. We also note that these resources are not meant to provide an extensive discussion on Palestine and Israel as a whole. While we list some of the many valuable resources on Palestinian history and politics developed by our colleagues (in Section I), overall we choose to center cultural practices in order to promote these as critical to, rather than separate from, understandings of Palestinian history and politics. If you would like to suggest additional resources to be included on this list, please email them to societyforarabmusicresearch@gmail.com.

Resource List

Our resource list begins with general toolkits developed by colleagues and community advocacy groups as well as a directory of Palestinian musicians. Following this list are educational resources organized into sections, each of which groups materials into the following topics:

Section I, What is Palestine?, provides relevant resources for a basic understanding of current issues in Palestine and Gaza.

Section II, The Politics of Cultural Heritage, includes resources that describe Palestinian folkloric music, dance, and storytelling repertoires as well as analyses of popular music such as hip-hop, rap, electro-dabke, and alternative music. Further resources outline the history of cultural erasure and censorship, and provide theoretical frameworks for understanding cultural resistance in Palestine through a wide variety of case studies.

Section III, Occupation and Conflict, discusses the structures of violence and power that define the Occupation, and the methods by which Palestinian and Israeli musicians navigate those structures. These sources discuss protest music, cultural resistance, trauma, and sound.

Section IV, Negotiating Islamist Movements, provides a basic framework for understanding interpretations and mobilizations of music in Islam and by Hamas. In regards to Hamas, articles discuss the aesthetics and purposes of music made by Hamas, as well as restrictions enforced by Hamas on other musicians and musical styles.

Section V, Exile, Migration, and Diaspora, offers theoretical discussions about the meanings of exile, migration, and diaspora in relation to Palestinian communities, as well as case studies of Palestinians musicking and dancing in exile.

Section VI, Ethnomusicology Resources, includes a list of ethnomusicological manuscripts on Palestine and Palestinian cultural practices; a list of relevant archives; and a list of important songs. 

Section VII, Films and Documentaries and Section VIII, Feature Films, provide important documentaries and feature films, some of which are specifically relevant to music and music production and others depict conditions of life in Palestine.

Section IX, Campus and Classroom Resources, offers suggestions for how to facilitate discussions of difficult topics, negotiate potentially contentious issues, and how to support students vulnerable to Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and antisemitism in the classroom and on campus.

Section X, Curricular Resources, provides detailed lesson plans, sample assignments, pedagogical strategies, and a recording of SAMR’s webinar, “Teaching Palestine through Music, Dance, and Arts: Tips and Strategies for University Educators.”

General Toolkits


Materials Organized by Topic

I. What is “Palestine”?

“Naming Palestine: The Vocabulary of Social and Political Histories”: https://palestinewrites.org/place-of-many-beginnings.php 

“A Place of Many Beginnings: Three Paths into the History of Palestine”: https://palestinewrites.org/place-of-many-beginnings.php

“Decolonize Palestine”: https://decolonizepalestine.com/

Gaza 101: A Collaborative Teach-In Series (2023) (complete & ongoing series info here: https://www.palestineincontext.org/)

  1. Gaza in Context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAKWgcpeYNo
  2. Human Rights, Gaza, and the War on Palestine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KepMmiRjJA
  3. Gaza in Geography: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lpxri63NAcU
  4. Gaza In History: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnyYDLMz95g
  5. Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miIuQfqo3Fw

Born in Gaza, film by Hernán Zin (2014) (available on Netflix) - explores the heartbreaking realities of children living in Gaza during the 2014 war. View trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKYysYySMEE

Naila and the Uprising, film by Julia Bacha (2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5NX1K7wc6k

II. The Politics of Heritage

Cultural Heritage 101 (music, storytelling, dabke)

Dalal Abu Amneh’s Ya Sitti project: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4GLOuo-P2nxgL1YV68eOkg

Barghouthi, Abdullatif. “Arab Folksongs and Palestinian Identity.” Journal of Mediterranean Studies 6, no. 1 (1996): 147-172. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/670168.

Abstract: “This article is an attempt to introduce Palestinian folksongs to the non-Arab reader. It will try to give a glimpse of Palestinian folklore necessary to establish a frame which will make focusing on folksongs possible. The article will also discuss the relevant performance before the Intifada (it broke out on December 9th, 1987) and what negative and positive effects the Intifada had on folksongs. Then, it will proceed to investigate the general Arab concept of identity and the changes which affected its historical development prior to this, in relation to Palestinian national identity. Following this theoretical part, it elaborates on the role of the Palestinian folksong in the service and promotion of the Palestinian Cause and Identity, ending up with appropriate examples of relevant folksongs appended with a corresponding translation in English.”

Barghouthi, Abellatif. 1963. “Arab Folksongs from Jordan” Ph.D. diss. University of London.

Massad, Joseph. “Liberating Songs: Palestine Put to Music.” Journal of Palestinian Studies, 32, no. 3 (2003): 21-38. http://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2003.32.3.21.

In this article, Massad examines the “mobilizing role” of song in the Palestinian revolutionary struggle. He traces song from the time of Revolutionary Egypt (the 40s and 50s) through the Intifada and the 1990s. He describes trends which move from state-sanctioned radio addressing the crisis in Palestine to guerrilla music groups in Palestine and groups formed by Palestinians in Israel, in the Occupied Territories, and in the Diaspora. Musicians sing of feelings of loss and nostalgia, remember lost places, and perform in solidarity of the struggle. Massad notes that the confidence in victory and Arab unity expressed in songs earlier in the second half of the 20th century is lost by the 1990s.

Muhawi, I., & Kanaana, S. (Eds.). 1989 [2021]. Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales (2nd ed.). Oakland: California University Press.

This book is a collection of folktales (hikayat or khararif) gathered in the 1970s and 80s by Dr. Sharif Kanaana and Ibrahim Muhawi. This is the translated English version, but there is an Arabic version available under the title Qul ya Tayr. Kanaana and Muhawi recorded the tales in colloquial Palestinian Arabic, the language spoken by those who told the tales. The book includes 45 tales from 17 tellers, 14 women and 3 men. The tales are preceded by an introduction outlining their role within Palestinian society, providing information about the tellers and the environment in which the tales were told, and laying out a basic framework for understanding the tales as expressions of relational values. The text also includes a transliteration of the original Arabic, and an ATU tale-type analysis of each story.

Rowe, Nicholas. 2010. Raising Dust: A Cultural History of Dance in Palestine. London: I. B. Tauris

Kaschl E. 2003. Dance and Authenticity in Israel and Palestine: Performing the Nation. Brill.

Jawhariyyeh, Wasif. 2013. The Storyteller of Jerusalem: The Life and Times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Storyteller-of-Jerusalem/Wasif-Jawhariyyeh/9781566569255

This excerpt from Wasif Jawhariyyeh’s memoirs describe his life in Jerusalem during the early 20th century (1904-1948). Jawhariyyeh came from a Greek Orthodox Christian family, and was a civil servant in the British mandate government as well as a semi-professional musician and composer. With introductions from Rachel Beckles Willson, Salim Tamari, and Issam Nassar, the book provides a glimpse into musical, religious, political, and social characteristics of Jerusalem during the transition from the Ottoman era through the Mandate period and finally the Nakba.

Bar-Yosef, Amatzia. 1998. “Traditional Rural Style under a Process of Change: The Singing Style of the Hadday, Palestinian Folk Singers.” Asian Music 29/2: 57-82.

Caspi, Mishmail. 1992. Weavers of the Song: The oral Poetry of Women in Israel and the West Bank. Washington DC: Three Continents Press.

Sbait, Ḍirgham Ḥ., 1993. “Debate in the improvised-sung poetry of the Palestinians.” Asian Folklore Studies, pp.93-117.

Sbait, Ḍirgham Ḥ., 1989. “Palestinian improvised-sung poetry: the genres of Ḥidā and Qarrādī: performance and transmission.” Oral Tradition 4/1-2: 213-235.

Sbait, Ḍirgham Ḥ., 1982. “The improvised-sung folk poetry of the Palestinians.” Ph.D. diss. University of Washington.

Sbait, Ḍirgham Ḥ., 1986. “Poetic and Music Structure in the Improvised-sung Colloquial Qasidah of the Palestinian Poet-Singers.” al-‘Arabiyya 19/1-2: 75-108.

Cultural erasure and censorship

McDonald, David A., My Voice Is My Weapon : Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. https://www.dukeupress.edu/My-Voice-Is-My-Weapon

Kanāʻinah Muṣliḥ, Thorsén Stig-Magnus, Heather Bursheh, and David A McDonald, eds. Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance Since 1900. Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2013 https://iupress.org/9780253011060/palestinian-music-and-song/

Rowe, Nicholas. 2011. “Dance and Political Credibility: The Appropriation of Dabkeh by Zionism, Pan-Arabism, and Palestinian Nationalism.” The Middle East Journal 65 (3): 363-380. https://doi.org/10.3751/65.3.11

Rowe, Nicholas. 2009. “Post-Salvagism: Choreography and Its Discontents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Dance Research Journal 41 (1): 45-68. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0149767700000528

“Resistance” (see also “Cultural Resistance to Israeli Occupation;” “Musical Resistance to Hamas”)

Moslih Kanaaneh, Stig-Magnus Thorsén. Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance since 1900. 1st ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.

McDonald, David A. 2012. “Revivals and New Arrivals: Protest Song in the al-Aqsa Intifada.” In: Music, Politics, and Violence, eds. Kip Pegley and Susan Fast, pp. 129-149.  Wesleyan: Wesleyan University Press.

McDonald, David A. 2013. “Performative Politics: Folklore and Popular Resistance during the First Palestinian Intifada.” In: Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance since 1900, eds. Stig-Magnus Thorsen, Moslih Kanaaneh, Heather Bursheh, and David A. McDonald, pp. 123-140.  Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

McDonald, David A. and Issa Bolous. 2024. “Palestinian Music” In: The Routledge Handbook on Palestine. Eds. Amneh Badran and Michael Dumper. New York: Routledge Press.

Elmessiri, Abdulwahab M. 1981. “The Palestinian Wedding: Major Themes of Contemporary Palestinian Resistance Poetry.” Journal of Palestinian Studies 10(3): 77-99. https://doi.org/10.2307/2536461

Though this article does not focus on music or only on oral poetry, it provides excellent contextual knowledge on the tradition of Palestinian resistance poetry, one of several important artforms that Palestinians have taken up as part of their cultural resistance efforts. The author describes major themes of this poetic genre, including: the relationships between Palestinian and Arab identity; the relationships between art and direct action; mournful eulogizing; steadfastness; land, soil, dirt, and rootedness; Palestinian nature such as olive trees, orange trees, almond trees; the sea; odes to Palestinian cities; and wedding festivities, which stand as a locus of nationalistic identity. For each theme, the author provides several examples.

Elmessiri, Abdelwahab M. 1982. The Palestinian Wedding: A Bilingual Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Resistance Poetry. New York: Three Continents Press.

Salih, R., & Richter-Devroe, S. (2014). Cultures of Resistance in Palestine and Beyond: On the Politics of Art, Aesthetics, and Affect. The Arab Studies Journal, 22(1), 8–27. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24877897

In this introduction to a special issue on Cultures of Resistance, Salih and Richter-Devroe trace changing discourses on political/protest art in academia and protest movements such as the last 50 years of Palestinian resistance and the 2011 Arab Spring. They define their understanding of ‘resistance,’ criticizing ‘romantic’ views of resistance laong with Lila Abu Lughod and arguing for the necessity of understanding the particular political, economic, and cultural networks that contextualize and intertwine with protest art. Finally they emphasize that art is not inherently resistive, drawing on Jacques Ranciere’s discussions of dissensus to argue that political art is that which aesthetically or affectively challenges established norms so that something new can arise. The special issue includes articles from Rania Jawwad, Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, Maha Nasser, Helga Tawil-Souri and Miriyam Aouragh, Craig Larkin, and Brahim al Guabli.

Alahmed, Nadia, “‘Black Intifada: Black Arts movement, Palestinian Poetry of Resistance, and the Roots of Black and Palestinian Solidarity” (2019). Doctoral Dissertations. 1579. https://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations_2/1579/

Rowe, Nicholas. 2008. “Kinetic Transgressions: Exposure and Concealment.” In Dance, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion. Lanham, MD:: Scarecrow Press.

El Zein, Rayya. “Resisting ‘Resistance:’ On Political Feeling in Arabic Rap Concerts.” Arab Subcultures: Transformations in Theory and Practice (2016): 87.

El Zein, Rayya, et al. “BDS and Palestinian Theatre Making: A Call for Debate within the Discipline of Theatre and Performance Studies.” Theatre Survey, vol. 59, no. 3, 2018, pp. 409–18

Dong, Ha. “Speak Up and Dance: The Convergence of Palestinian and African/Black Struggles in Afrodabke.” In The Routledge Companion to Literature and Social Justice, pp. 486-498. Routledge.

Jawad, Rania. 2011. “Staging Resistance in Bil’in: The Performance of Violence in a Palestinian Village.” TDR 55, 4 (T212):128–43. https://doi.org/10.1162/DRAM_a_00127

Parmenter, Barbara. 1994. Giving Voice to Stones: Place and Identity in Palestinian Literature. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Karkabi, Nadeem. 2018. “Electro-Dabke: Performing Cosmopolitan Nationalism and Borderless Humanity.” Public Culture 30 (1): 173-196. https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-4189215

Karkabi, Nadeem. “Staging particular difference: politics of space in the Palestinian alternative music scene.” Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 6, no. 3 (2013): 308-328. DOI:10.1163/18739865-00603004

McDonald, David A. 2010. “Carrying Words Like Weapons: Hip Hop and the Poetics of Palestinian Identities in Israel.” Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology 7/2: 116-130.

McDonald, David A. 2013. “Imaginaries of Exile and Emergence in Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Hip-Hop.” The Drama Review 57/3: 69-87.

McDonald, David A. 2020. “Junction 48: Hip-Hop Activism, Gendered Violence, and Vulnerability in Palestine.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 32/1: 26-43.

McDonald, David A. and Issa Bolous. 2024. “Palestinian Music” In: The Routledge Handbook on Palestine. Eds. Amneh Badran and Michael Dumper. New York: Routledge Press.

El Zein, Rayya. “From ‘Hip Hop Revolutionaries’ to ‘Terrorist-Thugs’: ‘Blackwashing’ between the Arab Spring and the War on Terror.” Lateral (Island Lake), vol. 5, no. 1, 2016. https://csalateral.org/issue/5-1/hip-hop-blackwashing-el-zein/

El Zein, Rayya. Performing El Rap El ’Arabi 2005-2015: Feeling Politics amid Neoliberal Incursions in Ramallah, Amman, and Beirut. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2016. https://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_etds/1402/

El Zein, Rayya. “Call and Response, Radical Belonging, and Arabic Hip-Hop in ‘the West.’” American Studies Encounters the Middle East, The University of North Carolina Press, 2016, pp. 106-?. https://doi.org/10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628844.003.0005

Stein, Rebecca L., and Ted Swedenburg, eds. 2005. Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture. Durham: Duke University Press. https://www.dukeupress.edu/palestine-israel-and-the-politics-of-popular-culture

From Duke’s website: This important volume rethinks the conventional parameters of Middle East studies through attention to popular cultural forms, producers, and communities of consumers. The volume has a broad historical scope, ranging from the late Ottoman period to the second Palestinian uprising, with a focus on cultural forms and processes in Israel, Palestine, and the refugee camps of the Arab Middle East. The contributors consider how Palestinian and Israeli popular culture influences and is influenced by political, economic, social, and historical processes in the region. At the same time, they follow the circulation of Palestinian and Israeli cultural commodities and imaginations across borders and checkpoints and within the global marketplace.The volume is interdisciplinary, including the work of anthropologists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, ethnomusicologists, and Americanist and literary studies scholars. Contributors examine popular music of the Palestinian resistance, ethno-racial “passing” in Israeli cinema, Arab-Jewish rock, Euro-Israeli tourism to the Arab Middle East, Internet communities in the Palestinian diaspora, café culture in early-twentieth-century Jerusalem, and more. Together, they suggest new ways of conceptualizing Palestinian and Israeli political culture.

Brehony, Louis. “Mohammed Assaf’s Victory Five Years On: Arab Idol and the Zionist Colonization of Palestine.” Arab Media & Society 26, no. Summer/Fall (2018): 19-29. https://www.arabmediasociety.com/mohammed-assafs-victory-five-years-on-arab-idol-and-the-zionist-colonization-of-palestine/

Polly Withers (2021). “Ramallah ravers and Haifa hipsters: gender, class, and nation in Palestinian popular culture.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 48:1, 94-113. https://doi.org/10.1080/13530194.2021.1885852

III. Occupation and Conflict

Cultural Resistance to Israeli Occupation (see also “Resistance”)

McDonald, David A. 2012. “Revivals and New Arrivals: Protest Song in the al-Aqsa Intifada.” In: Music, Politics, and Violence, eds. Kip Pegley and Susan Fast, pp. 129-149.  Wesleyan: Wesleyan University Press.

Gilani, Rozina S. “Artists Under Occupation: Collective Memory & the Performing Arts in Palestine, 1948-2011.” PhD diss., Central European University, 2012. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjQ_OL94IyDAxUSRDABHY_DBf0QFnoECA8QAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etd.ceu.edu%2F2018%2Fgilani_rozina.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1iGM23cimOJFGJ9lbckB7X&opi=89978449

Artists Negotiating the Conflict

Stein, Rebecca L., and Ted Swedenburg, eds. 2005. Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture. Durham: Duke University Press. https://www.dukeupress.edu/palestine-israel-and-the-politics-of-popular-culture.

Hujayri, Hussein al-. 2018. “To Make Up For What We’ve Lost An Interview with Kamilya Jubran.” Translated by Farah Zahra. Ma3azef. May 27, 2018. https://ma3azef.com/we-make-up-for-what-weve-missed-an-interview-with-kamilya-jubran/.

Bindler, Nicole. “Hadar Ahuvia and Jesse Zaritt: Jewish-American choreographers grapple with Zionism and the Nakba.” thINKingDANCE (2015). https://thinkingdance.net/articles/2015/06/15/4/Hadar-Ahuvia-and-Jesse-Zaritt-Jewish-American-Choreographers-Grapple-with-Zionism-and-the-Nakba/

Occupation, Violence, and Trauma

Elhariry, Yasser. “Sounds of Palestine.” In Sounds Senses. United Kingdom: Liverpool University Press, 2021.

Abu Hamdan, Lawrence. Earshot (2016). http://lawrenceabuhamdan.com/earshot

Wood, A. (2013). Sound, Narrative and the Spaces in between: Disruptive Listening in Jerusalem’s Old City. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 6, 286–307. https://doi.org/10.1163/18739865-00603003

In this article, Wood analyzes the role of sound in organizing the human geography of Old City Jerusalem. As residents and visitors to the city encounter sounds, which they then listen to and narrate by drawing on their previous experiences, Wood describes the role of those acts in interpretations and enactments of space, territory, and belonging. Finally, she analyzes festival events that actively seek to reshape the space of the Old City through sonic practice. However, she notes that these sonic engagements are not entirely predictable and can instead be disruptive practices that challenge entrenched “narratives of conflict and structures of violence and power,” (305).

Melpignano M. “A Necropower Carnival: Israeli Soldiers Dancing in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.” TDR: The Drama Review. 2023; 67(1): 186-202. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1054204322000910

McDonald, David A. 2010. “Geographies of the Body: Violence and Manhood in Palestine.” Ethnomusicology Forum 19/2: 191-214. https://doi.org/10.1080/17411912.2010.507463

McDonald, David A. 2009. “Poetics and the Performance of Violence in Israel/Palestine.” Ethnomusicology 53/1: 58-85. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25653047

Nicholson, Elin. “The Freedom Theatre and Cultural Resistance in Jenin, Palestine,” In Performance in a Militarized Culture, edited by Sara Brady and Lindsey Mantoan, 66-78. Milton: Taylor & Francis Group, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central

This article examines the capacity of cultural activities as a means of resistance against the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank by analyzing the work of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp. The author outlines two main ways that TFT enacts cultural resistance, by drawing on interviews and analysis of their annual reports. Firstly, the theatre curates performances that portray life under occupation, which helps to raise international awareness as a foundation for solidarity and provides an outlet for self-expression and healing for theatre practitioners and attendees. Secondly, the theatre works to develop the artistic skills of people in Jenin Refugee Camp as methods for cultural resistance in the pursuit of “‘freedom, justice, and equality,’” (71). The author notes repeated attempts to stifle the work of the theatre by the Israeli state, including arrests of theatre practitioners and destruction of the theatre.

Griffiths, Mark, and Jemima Repo. 2018. “Biopolitics and Checkpoint 300 in Occupied Palestine: Bodies, Affect, Discipline.” Political Geography 65: 17–25

This article analyzes the biopolitics of the system of checkpoints that all Palestinians, including musicians, have to navigate to travel between Palestinian cities and in particular between the West Bank and the state of Israel. The abstract: “Checkpoint 300 serves a large amount of Palestinian labourers as they make their way to places of employment in East Jerusalem and Israel. The Checkpoint is a large complex of corridors, turnstiles, metal detectors and security desks that control the movement and mobility of these workers every day, subjecting them to enforced waiting, stress and absence from the home. In this article we examine the Checkpoint as a regulatory site of Israeli state biopolitics that, by distributing bodies and affects is productive of particular subjects and practices. We articulate our approach to biopolitics through a focus on bodies, discipline and affect before drawing on research visits to give an account of how the space of Checkpoint 300 enacts corporeal and affective discipline. We discuss the Checkpoint as a complex space that is functional, hierarchical and subjectivising and propose that the Checkpoint produces and governs a heteronormative sexual division of labour that is conducive to Israeli state biopolitics by a) upholding patriarchal relations and b) producing a docile male Palestinian labour force to build settlements for the Israeli population. We thus argue that the subject-making processes at Checkpoint 300 work to differentiate and govern Palestinian bodies in ways that are tied to the broader biopolitical objectives of the Israeli state. We close with reflections on the contributions of such an understanding of checkpoints in Palestine and draw attention to the important future lines of inquiry indicated by the research.

IV. Negotiating Islamist Movements

Islamic Doctrine, Interpretation, and “Music”

Otterbeck, J. (2008). “Battling over the Public Sphere: Islamic Reactions to the Music of Today.” Contemporary Islam, 2, 211–228. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11562-008-0062-y

Abstract: This article analyses discussions about music in the new public sphere of the Arab world. First, it focuses on what states do to control musical expressions and what functions religious actors have in that control. Four cases are looked into: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine. Then the article discusses theological arguments, in the public sphere, about music. The theologians are divided into three positions: moderates, hard-liners and liberals. It is argued that structural changes of the public sphere—especially with regards to new media and consumer culture—have caused a heated debate about music and morality. While hard-liners and moderates engage in a discussion about the legal and the forbidden in Islam, liberals stress the importance of allowing competing norms. Examples of extremist violence against musicians is discussed and contextualised.

Otterbeck, J., & Ackfeldt, A. (2012). “Music and Islam.” Contemporary Islam, 6(3), 227–233. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11562-012-0220-0

This introduction to a special issue on the interpretation of music in Islam in various contexts and world cultures. The introduction outlines a basic framework for understanding the history of Islamic theological argument on music. Most of these arguments are based on the hadith, or the sayings of the prophet Mohammad, and they vary from restrictive to liberal viewpoints. The authors emphasize the role of individual scholars and cultural context in interpretations of music.

Berg, C. (2012). “Tunes of Religious Resistance? Understanding Hamas Music in a Conflict Context.” Contemporary Islam, 6, 297–314. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11562-012-0219-6.

Article’s abstract: Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawamat al-Islamiyya) was established in 1987 as a resistance organization against Israel and as an alternative to Fatah. One of the resistance tools of Hamas is music, which it produces, performs, records, and uses. Music in the Palestinian context can be seen as creating a political space for expression that the Israelis cannot control; inasmuch as as Hamas was established as a result of the occupation, so also, to a large extent, was its music. Palestinian resistance music has existed ever since the 1948 al-nakba (the catastrophe), and music centers in Cairo and Beirut have been influential factors in its production. Originally, the music was constituted by a wide range of popular music, which included lyrics about the Palestinian struggle. This article scrutinizes how Hamas music is being created, how it is used, and how it is linked to the organization’s resistance struggle against Israel and for a Palestinian homeland in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It concludes that Hamas resistance music is not permeated by the religious affiliation of the organization. Rather, it has as its aim social connection, spreading the messages of the organization, and exhorting resistance against Israel. In addition to resistance music, Hamas produces and uses music of grief and tributes to political and religious leaders, as well as anashid, songs different from the resistance music saturated by a religious character.

Berg, Carin and Michael Schulz, “Hamas’ Musical Resistance Practices: Perceptions, Production, Usages”, in Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance since 1900, eds. Stig-Magnus Thorsen, Moslih Kanaaneh, Heather Bursheh, and David A. McDonald. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

McDonald, David A. 2012. “Revivals and New Arrivals: Protest Song in the al-Aqsa Intifada.” In: Music, Politics, and Violence, eds. Kip Pegley and Susan Fast, pp. 129-149.  Wesleyan: Wesleyan University Press.

Musical Resistance to Hamas; Everyday Challenges of Performing and Producing Music under Hamas Authority (see also “Resistance”)

Khoudary, Hind. 2019. “To sing is not a right in the Gaza Strip.” +972 Magazine. June 6. https://www.972mag.com/hamas-gaza-freedoms-music/

An article written by +972 Mag discussing the difficulties faced by Gaza-based music group Sol Band as they manage restrictions by Hamas and the Israeli state. The article includes quotes from interviews with band members Hamada Nasrallah and Rahaf Shamaly. Rahaf in particular discusses the difficulties she faces as a young woman who does not wear a veil.

Najjar, Osama. 2017. “Turning up the volume in Gaza.” The Electronic Intifada. June 28. https://electronicintifada.net/content/turning-volume-gaza/20921

This article describes the work of two music groups in Gaza: SOL Band and rapper MC Gaza. The author provides a profile of both groups, describing their inspirations, aesthetics, and goals. In the section on SOL Band, the article focuses on female band member Reem Anbar, who describes the particular difficulties she faces as a woman performing musician. Both Sol Band and MC Gaza view their music as a means of resistance and sharing Palestinian experiences across borders.

Otterbeck, Jonas, and Johannes Frandsen Skjelbo. ““Music Version” versus “Vocals-Only”: Islamic Pop Music, Aesthetics, and Ethics.” Popular Music and Society 43, no. 1 (2020): 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2019.1581335

V. Exile, Migration, Diaspora


Serhan, R. (2008) Palestinian Weddings: Inventing Palestine in New Jersey, Journal of Palestine Studies, 37:4, 21-37, DOI: 10.1525/jps.2008.37.4.21

Serhan describes the development of Palestinian cultural traditions in weddings among Palestinian communities in the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Particularly interesting for my current work is the notion of symbols adopted by participants in order to maintain a Palestinian cultural identity among second- and third-generation immigrants. Drawing in Hobsbawm’s notion of ‘invented traditions,’ Serhan examines the ways in which these strictly followed cultural traditions strengthen trust networks and post-colonial nationalist sentiments within the community.

McDonald, David A., My Voice Is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. https://www.dukeupress.edu/My-Voice-Is-My-Weapon

Kanāʻinah Muṣliḥ, 2013. Thorsén Stig-Magnus, Heather Bursheh, and David A McDonald, eds. Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance Since 1900. Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2013.

Brehony, Louis. 2021. “Exile Songwriters of the Palestinian Revolution (And the Problem with Sugar Man).” Arab Studies Quarterly 45 (1): 34–60. https://www.jstor.org/stable/48720193


Van Aken, Mauro. “Dancing belonging: contesting dabkeh in the Jordan Valley, Jordan.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 32, no. 2 (2006): 203-222. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691830500487431

Saleh, Farah. (2020). “Defying Distance.” Img Journal, 2(3), 366–379. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2724-2463/12264 

Saleh, Farah. “Gestural Archives: Transmission and Embodiment as Translation in Occupied Palestine.” Performance and Translation in a Global Age. Edited by Avishek Ganguly, Kélina Gotman. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2023, 201-228.

Silverstein, Shayna. forthcoming. “‘It’s a Command Performance:’ Transnational Dabke in the Arab Chicagoan Diaspora.” In Dancing on the Third Coast: Chicago Dance Histories, edited by Susan Manning and Lizzie Leopold.

VI. Ethnomusicology Resources

Books and Theses

McDonald, David A., My Voice Is My Weapon : Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. https://www.dukeupress.edu/My-Voice-Is-My-Weapon

Belkind, Nili, Music in Conflict Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Aesthetic Production, Routledge Press, 2021. https://www.routledge.com/Music-in-Conflict-Palestine-Israel-and-the-Politics-of-Aesthetic-Production/Belkind/p/book/9780367563271

Hochberg, Gil Z. Becoming Palestine: Toward an Archival Imagination of the Future. Durham: Duke University Press, 2021. https://www.dukeupress.edu/becoming-palestine

Kanāʻinah Muṣliḥ, Thorsén Stig-Magnus, Heather Bursheh, and David A McDonald, eds. Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance Since 1900. Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2013 https://iupress.org/9780253011060/palestinian-music-and-song/

Boulos, Issa. “The Palestinian music-making experience in the West Bank, 1920s to 1959: Nationalism, colonialism, and identity.” Ph.D. dissertation, Universiteit Leiden, 2020.

El Zein, Rayya. 2016. “Performing El Rap El Arabi 2005-2015: Feeling Politics Amid Neoliberal Incursions in Ramallah, Amman, and Beirut.” PhD dissertation, City University of New York.

Brehony, Louis. 2023. Palestinian Music in Exile: Voices of Resistance. Cairo: Cairo University Press. https://aucpress.com/9781649033048/palestinian-music-in-exile/

Books abstract: Palestinian Music in Exile is a historical and contemporary study of Palestinian musicianship in exile in the Middle East, spanning half a century in disparate locations, including Gaza, Turkey, Kuwait, and Egypt. Grassroots musicians emerge here as powerful actors, their stories taking center stage, offering critiques of existing conditions, and new perspectives on displacement and the transmission of Palestinian narratives, and presenting alternative visions for the future. Louis Brehony argues that, under conditions of colonial relations and repeated displacement, the reclaiming of public space has gone hand in hand with aesthetic revolution, both broadening and traditionalizing the sounds of Palestine, and carrying messages of sumud (steadfastness) and resistance. Based on a decade’s research in Europe and the Middle East, this timely and inspiring collection of musical ethnographies provides a rich oral history of contemporary Palestinian musicianship and encompasses a broad range of experiences of the ghurba, or state of exile.

Kaschl E. (2003). Dance and Authenticity in Israel and Palestine: Performing the Nation. Brill.

Rowe, Nicholas. 2010. Raising Dust: A Cultural History of Dance in Palestine. London: I. B. Tauris


Palestine Museum’s digital archive: https://palarchive.org/?lang=en_US

The Palestine Museum is in the process of digitizing their entire archive of research materials, visual art, audio recordings, photographs, films, diary entries, letters, maps, official documents, etc. The archive is available in Arabic and English, organized according to medium and subject categories.

Institute for Palestine Studies Encyclopedia of the Palestinian Question: https://www.palquest.org/

This interactive website by IPS hosts biographies of major Palestinian figures, historic chronologies organized by event or theme, interactive maps of historic Palestine, and digitized primary resources. Thematic chronologies are organized into the categories: regional and international politics and diplomacy; subjugation, violence and wars; colonialism and Palestinian resistance; and Palestinian politics and Political movements. Further resource categories include: Key phases of the Palestinian question; Palestinian refugees; society and economy; and tradition, arts and culture. Resources are tagged according to relevant themes and highlights.

El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe newsletters (Arabic): https://www.el-funoun.org/content/newsletter

Newsletters include photographs and discussion of el-Funoun’s yearly activities, their mission statement, and their goals for coming years.

Popular Arts Center Archive of Palestinian Folk Music and Dance: https://www.popularartcentre.org/

al-Kamanjati newsletters (Arabic, English)

al-Kamanjati newsletters include photographs and discussion of the organization’s activities, their mission statement, and their goals for coming years.

Freedom Theatre annual reports: https://thefreedomtheatre.org/category/annual-reports/

Annual reports  include photographs and discussion of the Freedom Theatre’s activities, their mission statement, and their goals for coming years.

Palestine Performing Arts Network reports: https://www.ppan.ps/welcome/index/en

These reports are generated by PPAN, the network of performing arts organizations in Palestine. They outline challenges, strategies, and successes of these organizations and propose methods of working together to further performing arts in Palestine.


Wayn ‘a-Ramallah

Palestinian song, after recording by Samira Tawfiq (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5FXos8ByJA), transcription by Scott Marcus. One of the most widely known Palestinian songs, sung about the town of Ramallah - a place famous for music, dance, and creativity. The title literally asks “How do I get to Ramallah?” but has grown to represent the Palestinian struggle for land and belonging.  (This song’s story is told in the first section of the Al Jazeera documentary “Songs for the Love of Palestine” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIPeEXiG1Yk)

Bellydancing on Wounds

[Collaborating on an EP with Mohammed El-Kurd CLARISSA BITAR](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UOKLL-7ZsY&ab_channel=afikra-%D8%B9%D9%81%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%A9){:target=”_blank”}

“Mawtini” The Arabic Music Ensemble at the American University of Sharjah in collaboration with the Palestinian Cultural Club.

Yamma Mawil al-Hawa

Yamma mwel el-hawa is a mournful and contemplative Palestinian folkloric song, transcribed here as performed by Nai Barghouthi (يما مويل الهوا- ناي البرغوثي with lyrics as performed by Firqat al-Aghani al-‘Ashiqeen (يما مويل الهوى - فرقة العاشقين). The lyrics describe the singer’s longing for freedom and justice, and their commitment to suffer wounds and sacrifice even their lives for freedom. The song is representative of Palestinian experiences after the 1948 Nakba and continued resistance. The song is in ‘ajam (after modification by al-‘Ashiqeen from the original bayyati) and so is easily accessible to Western instruments. For more information, see McDonald 2013, pp. 36-39.


Instrumental piece in maqam nahawand (similar to harmonic minor scale) by Palestinian-Iraqi composer Rohi Khammash (transcribed by Loab Hammud).

Issa Boulos, Aghanina (Our Songs). Published by Birzeit University and the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, 2008.

A collection of Arab songs from the Near East focused on Palestine. The songs were chosen for their cultural and musical value and encompass traditional, national, and contemporary popular genres. The book is arranged according to school levels and provides basic analyses of the maqams and rhythmic motives. It comes with the accompanying audio. The songs were collected, transcribed, annotated, edited, and presented by Dr. Issa Boulos, an ‘ud player, composer, and ethnomusicologist.

VII. Films and Documentaries (centering Palestinian cultural practices)

Arna’s Children (Jenin Freedom Theater): https://youtu.be/DvtzDPdHeeU

Slingshot Hip Hop (2008): https://vimeo.com/195690477

Songs for the Love of Palestine (Al Jazeera, 2020): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIPeEXiG1Yk

Jenin Jenin (Mohammad Bakri, 2002): https://vimeo.com/499672067

Palestine Underground: Hip Hop, Trap, Techno (Boiler Room): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-R8S7QwO1g

Channels of Rage (2003): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWDnUeF9xk4

The Hakawatiyeh (2014) – Arabic language: الحكواتية - فلسطين

Five Broken Cameras (2011): https://tubitv.com/movies/321995/5-broken-cameras?start=true&tracking=google-feed&utm_source=google-feed

Junction 48: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junction_48

VIII. Feature Films (Useful for Teaching Palestinian Culture and Music)

Wedding in Galilee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_in_Galilee

Junction 48: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junction_48

Lemon Tree: [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_Tree_(2008film)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_Tree(2008_film)){:target=”_blank”}

Arab Film and Media Institute Palestinian Voices: 6 films and documentaries free to view online through the end of 2023: https://arabfilminstitute.org/palestinian-voices

IX. Campus and Classroom Resources

MESA Campus Climate Resources: https://mesana.org/advocacy/committee-on-academic-freedom/2023/11/21/campus-climate-resources

“What Does From the River to the Sea Really Mean?”: https://jewishcurrents.org/what-does-from-the-river-to-the-sea-really-mean

Solutions Not Sides (non-profit educational company dedicated to a critical approach to education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)

Setting up a Healthy Classroom Dynamic: https://www.facinghistory.org/en-gb/resource-library/discussing-israel-palestine-conflict-classroom

Framework for Tackling Controversial Issues: https://teachingcontroversies.com/framework/

For Mental Health Resources, see p. 15 of the Palestine Feminist Collective toolkit: https://bit.ly/PFCToolkit

X. Curricular Resources

Sample lesson plans

Tips and Strategies

“Teaching Palestine through Music, Dance, and Arts: Tips and Strategies for University Educators” (SAMR webinar)