Nili Belkind

2015-17 Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow

NiliPicI 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, A & R, record label executive and artists manager specializing in world music, I returned to school (Columbia University) to obtain my Ph D in ethnomusicology. Much of my work in the music industry centered on Caribbean music genres, and my MA thesis focused on the lives and musics of prominent Haitian artists living in diaspora. My Ph D 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 borderzones where fixed ethno-national categories align with neither physical spaces nor individual identities. The research and write-up of my dissertation were funded by Columbia University, the Palestinian American Research Center, and the Whiting Foundation. Over the past year, my research has focused on the ways in which musical interventions are transgressing, blurring and reconfiguring the sharply demarcated social boundaries, and contingent conceptions of citizenship, of two adjacent cities of ‘periphery’ status in Israel – Jaffa and Bat Yam.


-Forthcoming 2016: Music in Conflict: Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Aesthetic Production. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

-Forthcoming 2016: “Beit System Ali Bat Yam: On Music, Urban Regeneration and the (re-)Making of Place.” In Borderlines. Jerusalem: ICORE.

– Forthcoming 2015: “Roberto Rodriguez’s Timba Talmud: Jewish – Cuban Exilic Convergences in New York.” In Mazal Tov Amigos: 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.

– 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.


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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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