Representations of Trauma

Arnold Schoenberg, Survivor from Warsaw Op. 46

I’m happy to share with you that my monograph When Music Meets History: Representations of Trauma, from Auschwitz to the Financial Crisis  (in Greek) is forthcoming by Asini Publications, Athens. The book deals with issues of representing historical and political trauma in music, focusing on opera and musical theatre. Taking Auschwitz as a limit to traditional forms of representation, the book examines postwar debates primarily set by Theodor W. Adorno’s hermetical modernism and Bertolt Brecht’s dialectical theatre, exploring their proposed strategies in resisting the aestheticization of trauma. Under examination is the use of musical form, style, and aesthetics but also issues of reception, musical institutions and historical context. The book proposes an active kind of cultural mourning that forges spaces for critical thinking and debate about collective traumas of the past. It explores works by Arnold Schoenberg, Hanns Eisler, John Adams, Vasos Argyrides and Kharalampos Gogios. Its theoretical preoccupations and analysis have informed the sound installations I created together with Nektarios Pappas on music, sound and torture.

IMS Study Group Music and Violence

I am thrilled to announce the newly established Study Group Music and Violence of the International Musicological Association (IMS), which I have the pleasure of chairing. The group is based on a network created through the conference Soundscapes of Trauma: Music, Violence, Therapy (2019). Its scope is broad and it includes:

(1) current and historical uses of music as a means of violence and resistance to violence during war and conflict;
(2) musical representations of violence;
(3) music as symbolic violence, that is, non-physical violence exercised between social groups in the form of Othering, shaming, negative recognition, and hegemony of (musical) values;
(4) the entanglement of music and musicking with environmental violence;
(5) and the ways in which music has been embedded in systemic, racial, and gender violence in authoritarian as well as democratic regimes.

For more information:

On Music, Torture and Detention

I am happy to announce the publication of my article “On Music, Torture and Detention: Reflections on Issues of Research and Discipline” in the special issue of the journal “Transposition” on Sound, Music and Violence along with texts of dear colleagues and friends. The long-standing association of music and violence has been an overlooked topic in music research supporting a critical blindness about its transformation into an ideal weapon of terror. The wide range of topics explored and the interdisciplinary approach of this issue edited by Luis Velasco-Pufleau, attest to how far we have come in music research with regard to this phenomenon and disciplinary trauma. You can access the article here:

Everybody likes music don’t they?

I recently took part in a BBC Radio 3 programme, aired on 15 September, exploring negative experiences of music. I shared my research on music and torture in general and cold-war Greece in particular. You can access the programme on BBC Sounds:

With Gareth Malone, Professor Sophie Scott, James Tysome (Emmeline Centre for hearing implants, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge), Frances Harris, Cherry, Mike Moreton, Sofie, Nav Chana, Margaret Farquharson, Christine Bell, Flora, Sheldon Gilbert, John Lwanda, Anna Papaeti and George Szirtes.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3
Presenter: Faith Waddell
Producers: Faith Waddell & Sarah Devonald
Assistant producer: Sofie Vilcins
Sound designer: Riccardo Marcucci

New Parthenon

Anna Papaeti and Nektarios Pappas, New Parthenon (2019); loop 5′ 29”.

On 12 July 2019 Nektarios Pappas and I created the sound installation “New Parthenon” (Νέος Παρθενώνας) for the exhibition “Iasis” [Cure] organized by TILT platform. The title draws on a phrase attributed to Panagiotis Kanellopoulos concerning the detention camps established at the barren island of Makronissos in the context of the civil war in Greece (1946-1949). Our work deals with the traumatic soundscapes of the Markonissos camps during these bleak years as well as the post civil-war period; the camps finally closed down in 1957. Drawing on archival research and testimonies I collected in the context of the MUSDEWAR project, the installation explores: the official discourse of indoctrination according to which Makronissos was a national sanatorium aimed at curing Greek communists from the germ of communism; the torturous and multifaceted use of music and sound to which the detainees were exposed. The exhibition took place from 12 July to 4 August at the town of Loutraki, Greece. For a short clip, check here:

Guitars for refugee projects

In the context of my Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship (acronym MUSDEWAR), 24 guitars were donated by the Belgian humanitarian organization “Music Fund” for music projects with refugees in camps, shelters and self-managed spaces in Greece. Two years ago I asked Lukas Pairon, founder and managing director of “Music Fund”, to donate music instruments for refugee projects in Greece. Even though Greece is not at war, the effects of conflict are experienced by the thousands of refugees currently stranded here, some of them in situations of detention or semi detention. He most generously offered to send guitars as long as I could secure transport but also music projects in which they could be used. After two years of looking for a way to get the guitars here for free, the solution was given by the Belgian dance company “Rosas” which performs at the Athens Festival this evening. They loaded the guitars on their truck transporting their production’s sets. Eighteen guitars will be used by the Athens-based group “Musikarama” (Karama, dignity in Arabic), run by volunteers teaching music at refugee camps and their own space; they will also be used in collaboration with the Syrian Greek Youth Forum. Six guitars will be used by the group SAM SAM: Socio-Emotional Awareness Management – Sharing Arts & Music with refugee children. Based at the island of Chios, SAM SAM will work with unaccompanied minor refugees currently staying in a shelter. Many thanks go to the wonderful Lukas Pairon and MUSIC FUND; the dance company “Rosas”; Nicole Mouzaki, Head of Production of the Athens Festival; Kareem Kabbani, Wael Habbal and their friends from the The Syrian & Greek Youth Forum / SGYF; “Musikarama“; ethnomusicologist Tom Western; music therapist Mitsi Akoyunoglou; and composer Alexis Porfiriadis for helping me get the guitars to their new homes.

Soundscapes of Trauma: Exhibition

Manos Saklas, Vertigo Devices

Organized in the context of my Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship (acronym MUSDEWAR), the exhibition was in dialogue with the international conference Soundscapes of Trauma: Music, Violence, Therapy that took place in Athens from 23 to 25 May 2019. It featured new works by five artists – students of the Athens School of Fine Arts – exploring the conference’s themes. On Thursday 23 May, as the first day of the conference came to an end, there was a performance by Nektarios Pappas at his Pandemonium at Athens Conservatoire.

Athens Conservatoire
> Kletia Kokalari, Music for a very very very small room (2019)
> Nektarios Pappas, Pandemonium (2019)
> Argiris Rallias, Sound-Map (2019)
> Manos Saklas, Vertigo Devices (2019)

National Hellenic Research Foundation
> Elena Barmpa, Ear Myth (2019)

Below you can access the exhibition’s fold-up publication, which includes the exhibition map, artists’ biographies and description of works.

Nektarios Pappas, Pandemonium
Kleitia Kokalari, Music for a very very very
small room
Argiris Rallias, Sound-Map
Elena Barmpa, Ear Myth
Manos Saklas, Vertigo Devices & Nektarios Pappas, Pandemonium

Soundscapes of Trauma

Less than one month for the International Conference Soundscapes of Trauma: Music, Violence, Therapy. Here are dates/times for the keynote lectures:

> Thursday, 23 May 2019: Athens Conservatoire | 16.30
Suzanne G. Cusick (New York University)
Acoustical Violence and the End of ‘Music’

> Friday, 24 May 2019: National Hellenic Research Foundation | 16:00
Martin Daughtry (New York University)
Wartime Structures of Listening, Or When Sound Is More than Sound

> Saturday, 25 May 2019: National Hellenic Research Foundation | 11.15
John Speyer (Music in Detention, UK)
Identity and Power Play: Music in UK Immigration Detention Centres

The conference is free of charge.

The programme can be accessed here:

For abstracts and biographies, click here:

The Undoing of Music

It is a great pleasure to announce that the podcast “The Undoing of Music” has been recently uploaded to the radio portal of the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.

Conceived, written, and produced by Anna Papaeti
Sound Design and production by Nektarios Pappas
Commissioned by Museo Reina Sofia
Recorded with the generous help of Nikos Arvanitis

Narrated by Anna Papaeti
Testimonies (in order of appearance) Philip Noel-Baker, Jonathan Woodcock, Luke Littlewood, Gene Ray, Glykeria Patramani, Nikos Arvanitis

Image: Anna Papaeti and Nektarios Pappas, The Dark Side of the Tune, Hypnos Exhibition (Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens: 2016) © Panos Kokkinias
Used with kind permission

SEM 2018: Music & Prisons (video)

Music and Prisons in Global Perspective (video)
> panel sponsored by the SEM board (live-streamed)
> Annual Meeting of Society of Ethnomusicology (November 2018)
> Albuquerque, New Mexico

To watch click here:

Participants in order of appearance:
Elizabeth Tolbert, Johns Hopkins University, Chair
Alison Frater, National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (UK), Keynote
Alexander Mclean, Founder of the African Prisons Project, Keynote
Aine Mangaong, University of Oslo, Respondent
Anna Papaeti, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Respondent