SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Mrs Maya Youssef

BA English Literature, University of Damascus, 2007 BA Music, High Institute of Music and Dramatic Arts, Damascus, 2007 MMus Ethnomusicology, SOAS, 2014
  • Teaching
  • Research


Maya Youssef
Mrs Maya Youssef
Email address:
Thesis title:
A Musical Intervention with Syrian Refugee Children at the Camps
Year of Study:
3 (part-time)
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My doctoral research explores ways in which interactive musical performance and story-telling may contribute towards initiating a process of healing amongst traumatised Syrian refugee children. The research is based on two premises. The first draws on the ethnomusicological concept of music as culturally contingent and socially meaningful and extends that to the symbolism of my instrument, the kanun. For most Syrians the kanun embodies the sound of home. The second premise draws on and builds upon the belief, as promoted by applied ethnomusicology, that music can be used as a tool for individual and social change. The dissertation will aim to bring these approaches into dialogue with emerging discourses in community music therapy and refugee studies. Based on my background as a Syrian performer of the kanun, as well as my experience working with the London-based therapeutic children’s theatre company Oily Cart, I will explore the healing potential of performance through a 7-part interactive musical journey entitled ‘The Seven Gates of Damascus.’ Using performance as its principal method of research, it will aim to guide the emotional state of children from trauma towards a place of healing and emotional equilibrium. The ultimate aim of the research will be to advance our understanding of the role of the arts in more effectively treating post-traumatic stress amongst child survivors of war.


  • British Forum for Ethnomusicology
  • Musicians' Union


Maya is the Director of SOAS Middle Eastern Ensemble.


  • Performance
  • Applied ethnomusicology
  • Refugee children
  • Applied theatre