Rhythms at the Intersection of Peace and Conflict: The Music of Nonviolent Action

This past Tuesday, USIP and the Conflict Prevention & Resolution Forum co-hosted and event at USIP presenting an exciting new movie followed by a panel discussion on the intersection between music and nonviolent civic action.

My USIP colleague, Maria Stephan, and my Freedom Beat partner, Timothy O’Keefe envisioned  this event and over the course of several weeks we worked with our friends and USIP and with the CPRF to organize a great event that brought in over 75 people to USIP to explore an exciting topic in a creative way.

The event description was:

Across the world, nonviolent civic mobilization has become an increasingly recognized force for social, political, and economic change. A recent study found that in the last 100 years, nonviolent movements have been twice as successful as violent movements. A key part of this success is the unique ability of nonviolent civic action to mobilize large numbers of people to participate in the struggle, particularly across lines of cultural difference. Music and musicians often emerge at both the center and periphery of nonviolent movements, providing a megaphone for demands and a platform for expressing grievances and preserving or building collective identities.

This event brings together three individuals whose work meets at the nexus of music and nonviolent action: Arash Sobhani – an underground musician from Iran, Timothy O’Keefe – a music producer and co-founder of Freedom Beat Recordings, and Dr. Maria Stephan – one of the world’s leading scholars on strategic nonviolent action.

Looking through a musical lens, these three leaders will guide us through an exploration of nonviolent action, past and present. The event will also feature a 25-minute film chronicling Arash Sobhani’s 2013 journey through Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey to interview and jam with artists whose music has helped capture and fuel nonviolent movements that have emerged in those countries. Never before had such a musical exchange occurred in the Middle East.

Visioning and organizing this event was a valuable learning experience in terms of working with various departments and individuals at USIP at with CPRF to bring it all together.

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