Polly Withers

Department: Middle East Politics
Discipline: Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Research Centre/Unit: Gender Studies

Project Summary

My PhD project focuses on the politics of youth popular music, in the context of Palestine. Based on thirteen months of fieldwork between Ramallah (West Bank), Haifa (Israel) and Amman (Jordan), as well as on-going observations in London (UK), I explore the constitution and performance of social and political identities in these 'alternative' music cultures. I draw on ca. 60 interviews with young musicians of translocal music, audiences, producers, bar owners, party planners and event organisers in this 'alternative' music scene; as well as participant observations at concerts, gigs, parties, bars and raves, to explore these themes.

I am especially interested in the ways that both political and social identities are embodied. My analysis on the one hand therefore centralises around bodily performativity and affect. On the other, I also explore the politics of transnationalism, European hegemony, and the construction of British 'multiculturalism' through particular framings of musical performances in the UK.



Supervisory Team

Dr Sophie Richter-Devroe (lead supervisor; University of Exeter)

Dr Justin William (second supervisor; Bristol University)

Wider Research Interests

Cultural Studies (especially youth (sub)cultures & music scenes); Gender Studies (especially performativity, the body & embodiment); Queer Theory & Sexualities; Performance Studies (especially music as process & performance; dress & fashion practices; rituals); and Transnationalism(s); Palestinian Studies.