Music 286R Listening, Creativity, and Imagination

Ryen Bani-Hashemi, Untitled Project Abstract

My project is a soundscape composition, specifically in a documentary form that investigates how Islamophobia and western militarism have contributed novel sounds and modes of thinking since the 1940s and especially in the post-9/11 era. I was inspired by my autoethnography response and the desire to connect specifically with my mother’s experiences as an Iranian immigrant to the US during a period of sustained hostility against Iranians and Middle Easterners more broadly. The piece is also inspired by my research with the HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, through which I have been analyzing communications by states asserting their right to armed self-defense against amorphous conceptions like “the terrorists”,[1] often resulting in catastrophic and grossly disproportionate interventions in the Middle East and North Africa.

From the speech of political leaders preaching a “battle of ideas”, to the sounds of discriminatory airport security procedures, and the mosquito-like buzzing of drones or the deafening IDF “sonic booms”, the rise of Islamophobia and US military responses have contributed a destructive element to the soundscapes of the Middle East and much of Africa. This project aims to draw attention to, and critique, the mainstream Islamophobic mindset in the west and its substantive applications abroad. It ultimately aims to clarify how a particular bias and manifestation of stereotyping contributes to the world we live in today.

The attached image is a screenshot of my project in a DAW. IT incorporates sounds from YouTube, the BBC sound archive, and my own recordings.
[1] UN Doc. S/2001/1275 (December 27, 2001).