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Understanding the role of sound and music in conflict transformation: The Mozambique Case Study
AHRC Research Project — School of Arts, English and Languages, and the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast

Principal Investigator: Prof. Pedro Rebelo
Co-Investigator: Prof. Fiona Magowan
Post-Doctoral Research Fellows: Dr. Matilde Meireles and Dr. Iñigo Sanchez

Music making is known to have benefits for social cohesion. As a social practice, music depends on personal interaction, dialogue, agreement on conventions and trust.  Previous work on music and conflict has illuminated the different roles that music and sound play in conflict situations (from exacerbating conflict to mitigating it). Moreover, recent scholarship has highlighted the transformative power of music, demonstrating how music making activities could have a direct and positive impact on conflict resolution, peacebuilding and reconciliation by non-violent means. This research project aimed at contributing to these ongoing debates by exploring the possibilities of music and sound in conflict transformation in Mozambique through a participatory case study rooted in sonic art methodologies.

Two decades after the end of Mozambique’s civil war, the remnants of the armed conflict still persist in Mozambican society. Although the tangible effects of the war are specially felt in the central and northern regions of the country, the tolls of more than three decades of civil unrest can also be observed in other parts of the country. Maputo, the country’s capital city, has received sheer numbers of internally displaced persons since the beginning of the conflict that populate the city’s shanty towns. These different groups of various ethnic backgrounds and origins are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion and marginalization. Their individual and collective struggles and histories of displacement often remain silenced in the tumultuous cacophony of the city.  This project drew from an interdisciplinary methodology that combined ethnography and sonic art research practices to explore and valorize these stories in order to produce a participatory audio-visual work which reflected on the relationship between sound and conflict in Mozambican contemporary society.

The project was developed in Mafala, Maputo’s oldest township, in collaboration with IVERCA, a local grassroots association committed to the social and economic development of the neighborhood through tourism, culture and environmental activism.

See more about the outcomes and methodology on the project’s website.

Launch Project