Graihagh Cordwell

MusB (Hons) (Manchester), GRNCMDip (RNCM), MusM Ethnomusicology (Manchester)
Course DPhil Music 
College St John's

St John's College 

St Giles'




Ethnomusicology; anthropology; the Middle East; migration, forced migration and refugees; music and conflict; music and politics; applied ethnomusicology and community music; music and humanitarianism.

My thesis explores the role of music in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, a camp established in 2012 as an emergency response to those fleeing the Syrian civil war, but now home to over 80,000 refugees. My research examines the uses and functions of different musics and musical activities in Zaatari, focusing on the multivalent ways in which refugees act as active social agents in camps. I also explore the advantages and pitfalls of ‘musical humanitarianism’, and how humanitarian actors might best provide musical opportunities for refugees. More broadly, I aim to understand what music can tell us about the Syrian refugee experience, and how an ethnomusicological approach to forced migration studies may reveal insights that depart from dominant narratives of refugees as passive victims of circumstance, both within the academy and the wider humanitarian community. 

Conference Papers

‘Musical Humanitarianism? Ethics and Methods of Doing Fieldwork in Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan’. BFE/RMA Research Students’ ConferenceUniversity of Sheffield. January 2019.

‘Music, Humanitarianism, and the Syrian Refugee Experience’. Roots, Diaspora and Belonging: A Musical Exploration. Woolf Institute at the University of Cambridge. February 2019.

‘Musical Humanitarianism? Doing Fieldwork in Refugee Camps’. Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum. City, University of London. May 2019. 

AHRC DTP Studentship

AHRC Research Training Support Grant for Overseas Research

St John’s College

British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) Fieldwork Grant Award

Subjects Taught