National Identity and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

  • Solveig Riiser
Keywords: music, peace building, middle east conflict


This article examines the role of national identity in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an orchestra consisting of young musicians from Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. The article is built upon the idea that there are constant negotiations at play in the orchestra, including among the musicians internally, between them and the orchestra’s founder and conductor Daniel Barenboim, and between the orchestra and its larger political and geographical context. This article unveils the inner dynamics of the ongoing identity negotiations in the orchestra, and the politics and power-mechanisms informing and defining these negotiations.

Author Biography

Solveig Riiser
Solveig Riiser holds a masters degree in Musicology from the University of Oslo. Her thesis is named “Negotiating the Divan. A Study of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra” (Riiser 2009). She is currently the Managing Director of the Norwegian section of Jeunesses Musicales International (Musikk og Ungdom), and is a research assistant in the Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, working on the project “Genre Cultures in the field of Music”, lead by Director of the Department Svein Bjørkås. In 2010, she was awarded the *Babylon prize* for the best contribution in written by a pre-phd-researcher in the journal Babylon, Scandinavia's leading academic journal on contemporary Middle East and North Africa.