Wellbeing, Cultural Protection, and Sustainability of Traditional Music among Children and Young Adult Syrian Refugees
The Case of Nefes Music School
This article examines the relationship between the sustainability of traditional arts and al-ḥimāyah al-thaqāfiyyah lil-atfāl “children’s cultural protection” and their wellbeing in the context of forced migration. It focuses, in particular, on the role of traditional music among children and young adult Syrian refugees in reference to Nefes Music School, which was founded in 2019 in Gaziantep, Turkey. War and displacement have greatly impacted the lives and wellbeing of Syrian children and young adults both inside and outside Syria. Whether they live in refugee camps or in other settlements, they endure psychological, social, and economic challenges as they try to cope with the trauma of war and displacement. For the refugees living outside of Syria, the pressure to integrate into the cultures of the host countries and to resist different sorts of discrimination add to their traumatic experience.
The article discusses the strategies employed by Nefes Music School in order to establish an Arab music program in exile, and how music can help the students whose majority have fled Syria as young children and are now trying to adapt to a new environment. What role can traditional music play in the lives of refugees who have endured horrific experiences of war, displacement, and loss of loved ones? How can this music contribute to the integration of the Syrians in their host culture and how can the transmission of the musical heritage of displaced people through the younger generation foster its sustainability? How is the international community contributing to the safeguarding of Syria’s cultural and musical heritage? And finally, what are the challenges for the sustainability of these initiatives and therefore for the sustainability of Syria’s traditional music?
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