Dunya Habash Awarded 2021 BFE Student Prize

The BFE Committee is delighted to announce that Dunya Habash (University of Cambridge) has been awarded the 2021 BFE Student Prize for her paper ‘“Do Like You Did in Aleppo”: Negotiating Space and Place Among Syrian Musicians in Istanbul’. The prize recognises an outstanding paper presented by a student at the BFE Annual Conference, this year hosted 8–11 April by Bath Spa University.

The paper explores how Syrian refugee musicians in Istanbul maintain traditions in displacement, re-conceptualising Philip Bohlman’s idea of ‘aesthetic agency’ with respect to refugee music making. It highlights the difficulties of integrating into a new society where spatial, social, material, and economic realities have changed significantly. It is especially concerned with processes of inward, rather than outward, negotiation as refugees come to terms with the musical opportunities and limitations that they encounter in contexts of displacement.

Judges praised the paper for its contribution to studies of music and forced migration, for conveying genuinely new knowledge, and for engaging with debates in several fields. They also commended the compelling presentation and sensitive interpretation of the author’s ethnographic data.

The judges for this year’s competition were Dr Klisala Harrison, Academy of Finland Research Scholar at the University of Helsinki, Dr Andrew Killick, Reader in Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield, and Dr Byron Dueck, Senior Lecturer in Music at the Open University. They extend their congratulations to Habash and their thanks to the other entrants for the opportunity to engage with their research.