Mrs. Diana Abbani
Address 1
Doha, Qatar
AFMA Member
MESA Member
BASIS Member
Institution Name
Sorbonne University
Institution Address 1
1 rue Victor Cousin
Institution City
Institution County
Institution Postcode
75005 Paris
Institution Country
Discipline 1
Modern History
Geographical Area 1
Middle Eastern Area
Fertile Crescent
Languages Mastered
Languages Mastered
Languages Mastered
I am a phd candidate at the Sorbonne University currently finishing my dissertation entitled “Musical Nahḍa: musical life, modernisation and struggles in early 20th century Beirut”
Early Career Researcher
My dissertation is a social history of Beirut’s musical scene in the first quarter of the twentieth century. It offers a historical rethinking of the cultural and intellectual history of Beirut, by looking at the relation between music, technology and society. It also provides an analysis that takes into consideration al-Nahḍa’s economic and transregional history, musicology and everyday life in Beirut. My future research plan is to extend my dissertation to investigate other aspects of the Levantine cultural life, in particular the vernacular literature published during the 1920’s and the 1930’s. I would like to study how the colloquial literature, as a mode of expression, captured the political, social and cultural changes that marked early 20th century Beirut. I would also like to explore how these types of vernacular writings were produced, how they gained popularity and respectability in Beirut, the ways they were received by the audience and their relation to popular culture.
Research description
My dissertation offers a glimpse into 20th century Beirut’s popular culture by unveiling the type of music that prevailed at the time (folk and art music), the famous singers, the places of singing (concert-halls, singing-cafés, theatres…). I follow the ways in which the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the French mandate changed and affected entertainment and leisure in Beirut, by focusing on its evolving musical scene, as it manifested in changing places of consumption, sociality and the distribution of music as a new form of commodity. I do that by looking at expert, lay and intellectual debates on art and art criticism in this period, as they emerged in literature and in the press. Moreover, my dissertation looks at how new developments in technologies affected music at the beginning of the 20th century by focusing on how the evolution of the record industry imposed and produced new forms of expressions, of music, and new places of entertainment. A reading of how the social and political transformations in early 20th century Beirut affected and created new forms of entertainment, leisure, musical expressions and commodities allows us to understand the contribution of music in making a national identity and discourse in the newly established State of Greater Lebanon. My dissertation offers a new historical analysis of how collective identities took shape in songs that built national imaginary in early 20th century Beirut, by setting myths (such as the Glorious Arab or Syrian Unity) and debating new social values (such as the decadence in the society or gender issues). It does so by analysing texts of songs from a literary perspective, in order to trace subjective, social and political desires in this period. Finally, I study the role and position of women in the musical scene as well as how music was used in gender discourse.
Recent publications
Diana Abbani, "The musical life in the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine) during the Nahda", in Early Singers from Bilad al-sham (Booklet and 4 CD), AMAR (Arabic Music Archiving and Research), P1131189, L'Autre Distribution, (other authors: Kamal Kassar, Jean Lambert, Mustafa Sa'îd), March 2014 Diana Abbani. “Fayrūz [Fairuz]” (Leb., singer, 20th c.)”, Music around the World. A Global Encyclopedia, by Andrew R. Martin and Matthew Mihalka, Editor, ABC CLIO, (Peer-reviewed accepted papers, scheduled to be published in October of 2017). Diana Abbani. “Zajal”, Music around the World. A Global Encyclopedia, by Andrew R. Martin and Matthew Mihalka, Editor ABC CLIO (Peer-reviewed accepted papers, scheduled to be published in October of 2017). Diana Abbani, article on "Asmahān" [Asmahan] (Leb., singer, 20th c.) for the Encyclopaedia of Islam THREE project. (Peer-reviewed accepted papers, to be published during 2017)
Additional Info 1
Cultural History of the Middle East and the Arab world; Modern Middle-Eastern History and Intellectual History; Arab Nahda; Nationalism and ideologies; Questions of Taste, Class and Gender - Popular culture and Music in the Middle East (19th and 20th cen
Additional Info 2
The Levant.
Contemporary Relevance