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Music in Detention during the (Post) Civil-War Era in Greece (1947-1957)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MUSDEWAR (Music in Detention during the (Post) Civil-War Era in Greece (1947-1957))

Período documentado: 2017-12-01 hasta 2019-11-30

MUSDEWAR studied for the first time the use of music in situations of detention during the (post) Civil-War period in Greece (1947-57). The main objectives were to investigate, document, and theorize the role of music in this context, producing a cutting-edge empirical and theoretical study. The project focused on the infamous camps at the barren island of Makronissos established in 1947 for communists and leftists soldiers, later also including civilians. It critically analysed the ways in which music was an integral part of ‘re-education’, which essentially consisted of brutal torture, hard labour, nationalist and anti-communist speeches. It documented, mapped and analysed forced singing and forced listening, music by command in official choirs and bands, as well as the prisoners' own music. Drawing on (ethno)musicology, social anthropology, history, philosophy, critical theory, and trauma studies, it developed a theoretical framework, producing results and theoretical tools that went beyond the specificities of the case study.

Given music’s transformation into a sonic weapon and its institutionalization in 'enhanced' interrogation techniques and captive environment, this project was timely and crucial. It provided a thorough case study that critically explored such uses and and their potential to damage subjectivity, an awareness still missing from the public sphere and, to a great extent, from music research. Despite music's long standing association with punishment and humiliation, musicology and ethnomusicology were historically founded on the notion, dating back to antiquity, of music as an enlightening and therapeutic artform. It is only in the last two decades that research concerning its damaging effects started to gradually surface. Biases about the ennobling and healing character of music have in fact initiated an opening for its instrumentalization as an ideal weapon of terror, making it difficult for survivors, the general public and even perpetrators to recognize its complicity in torture. Music’s elusive nature has also been reinforced by the fact that it leaves no visible marks on the body, making it hard to prosecute in courts of law. And yet research on post traumatic stress disorder shows that practices aiming to cause fear, anxiety and loss of control (like music) tend to have longer side-effects than 'physical torture', something corroborated by survivors. MUSDEWAR's empirical findings and theoretical analysis challenge and redefine perceptions about music's social function, contributing significantly to this emerging field, but also to political and legal debates concerning the criminalization of such practices.
Addressing the main research objectives required extensive archival and textual research, as well as interviews with political prisoners. In exploring the intersections of music, terror, and detention, a theoretical framework was developed, focusing on the notions of sound, voice, silence, acoustic violence, subjectivity, vulnerability, agency and witnessing. Refusing simplistic dichotomies that would posit music as intrinsically negative or positive, the project explored dialectically and in an interdisciplinary manner the complex ways in which music was used and was reclaimed by prisoners even in the same setting in which it was weaponized. It showed how music could counter the loss of voice and objectification of torture, being used as a means of resistance and solidarity. The ethics of bearing witness was at the crux of MUSDEWAR’s theoretical framework, focusing on the notions of address-ability and response-ability – that is the ability to address and to respond to an other, which is a constitutive structure of subjectivity to which the voice is central.

List of main dissemination results
1.Three peer-reviewed chapters/articles and a book review (three forthcoming and one under review)
2. Monograph and co-edited volume (in progress)
3. 14 talks at international conferences and workshops, symposia, research meetings and seminars
4. Guest editor/article contributor of the newspaper column 'Spectrum of History', EFSYN:
5. Organization of the international conference/exhibition Soundscapes of Trauma: Music, Violence, Therapy (2019)
6. Academic committee member, International Conference The Greek Case in the Council of Europe (2019)
7. Podcast for Museo National Reina Sofia, Madrid:
8. Interview for a BBC Radio 3 Sunday feature programme (available as a podcast):
9. Sound installation 'New Parthenon' (with Nektarios Pappas; 2019):
10. Wikipedia entry on music in detention (forthcoming)
11. CNN article on music and torture featuring the researcher's work among others:
12. Article in national newspaper EFSYN, featuring her research, among others
13. Design and co-ordination of the donation of 24 guitars by Music Fund (Belgium) for guitar workshops with refugees in Greece in camps and at Syrian Greek Youth Forum and Musikarama, Athens
14. MSC Fellowship Scheme presentation on two occasions
15. Project webpage and Facebook page
16. Four (post)graduate seminars
17. Proposal for 2020 ERC Consolidator Grant
MUSDEWAR documented and analysed the use of music in detention as a means of terror and humiliation during the period under study. The project theorized acoustic violence and the ways in which music reinforced the utter loss of control and sense of helplessness. It thus provided theoretical tools that go beyond the state of the art, which mostly consists of rather descriptive case studies. It also moved beyond the simplistic dichotomy of negative and positive uses of music, theorizing the ways in which these two can become entangled. Focusing on the ethics of witnessing, it showed the importance of music for prisoners in reclaiming their identity as political/ethical subjects in the midst of terror. It also underlined our responsibility to listen attentively to trauma testimony, showing how moments of contradictions can offer important insights about the role of music. Lastly, it engaged in a much needed discussion about the ethical/methodological considerations of music research with trauma survivors, dealing with risks and issues such as voluntary participation in the context of detention, social asymmetry, the vulnerability of participants and the positionality of researchers. Given the increasing academic interest on music programmes in prisons/refugee camps, its results come at a crucial moment to fill a gap in existing literature.

MUSDEWAR increased public awareness about the role of music in detention and the ways in which it has been used as a means of terror and humiliation in European history. Its results and its focus on short and long-term effects will contribute to current political and legal debates about the criminalization of such practices. This historical recovery was timely in light of mass asylum seeking and detention in EU countries, and the role of music in such contexts. Its findings, which were communicated to NGOs and human rights organizations, provide critical insights for developing better guidelines for detention practices and ethically sound music programmes in detention.
Manos Saklas, 'Vertigo Devices' & Nektarios Pappas 'Pandemonium', Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition
Argyris Rallias, 'Sound-Map', Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition, Athens 2019
Elena Barmpa, 'Ear Myth', Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition, Athens 2019
Inside page of fold-up programme for the International Conference Soundscapes of Trauma
Guitar workshop by Musikarama, Athens, 2019
Keynote lecture by Professor Suzanne Cusick (NYU), International Conference Soundscapes of Trauma
Kleitia Kokalari, 'Music for a very very very small room', Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition, 2019
Anna Papaeti and Nektarios Pappas, 'New Parthenon' (sound installation), Iasis Exhibition (2019)
Nektarios Pappas, 'Pandemonium', Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition, Athens 2019
Manos Saklas, 'Vertigo Devices' (sound installation), Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition, Athens 2019
Inside page of brochure, Soundscapes of Trauma Exhibition
Guitar Workshop by Dr Thomas Western at the Syrian Greek Youth Forum, Athens, 2019
24 guitars donnated by Music Fund (Belgium) for lessons/workshops with refugees in Greece
Outside page of fold-up programme for the International Conference Soundscapes of Trauma
Anna Papaeti and Nektarios Pappas, 'New Parthenon' (sound installation), Iasis Exhibition (2019)