Dr. Nili Belkind

…music making and its cultural meanings in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I grew up in Israel but have spent my adult life in the United States. After many years of working in the music industry as an album producer, Artists & Repertoire executive, record label executive and artists manager specializing in world music, I returned to school (Columbia University) to obtain my PhD in ethnomusicology.

Much of my work in the music industry centered on Caribbean music genres, and my MA thesis focused on the lives and music of prominent Haitian artists living in diaspora. My PhD dissertation brought me back to Israel-Palestine after decades of living abroad. Based on 18 months of fieldwork in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the dissertation is an ethnography of music making and its cultural meanings in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The dissertation highlights musical renderings of discourses of co-existence, discourses of resistance and projects of nation making. It also explores forms of expressive culture that ‘live’ in the blurry boundaries and border zones where fixed ethno-national categories align with neither physical spaces nor individual identities. My fieldwork was supported by grants from Columbia University and the Palestinian American Research Center, and my dissertation write-up was funded by a Whiting Foundation grant. My current project aims to extend the work I have begun with my dissertation, but will focus more closely on cultural production and place making in mixed-city contexts in Israel.

Selected Publications

  • Forthcoming 2015: “Roberto Rodriguez’s Timba Talmud: Jewish – Cuban Exilic Convergences in New York.” In Jews and Popular Musics in the Americas. Ran, Amalia and Moshe Morad, eds. Leiden and Boston: Brill.
  •  2014. Music in Conflict: Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Aesthetic Production. Doctoral Dissertation, Columbia University. http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:176955
  • 2013. “Israel’s J14 Social Protest Movement: On Music, Politics, and Social Justice.” Middle East Journal of Culture and Communications 6: 329-353.
  •  2010. “A Message for Peace or an Instrument of Oppression? The Israeli Jewish-Arab Duo Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad Represent Israel at the 2009 Eurovision.” Current Musicology 89: 7-35. http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:178099