SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Maria Rijo Lopes Da Cunha

BA (FCSH Lisboa), MMus PhD (SOAS)
  • Research


Maria Rijo Lopes Da Cunha
Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT)

One-to-one Tutor

Maria Rijo Lopes Da Cunha
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Thesis title:
The Contemporary Revival of Naḥda Music in Lebanon: Politics of Remembrance and Representation
Year of Study:
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Maria Rijo Lopes da Cunha is a musician and ethnomusicologist born in Lisbon, Portugal. Trained as a classical western music cellist, specialising in ancient music and performance practice, and musicology (BA) her research interest lead her to study Middle Eastern and North African music traditions.

PhD Research

My research focuses on the contemporary revival of music from the Nahḍa period in Lebanon and considers how the revival challenges mainstream – and state-sponsored – notions of music heritage (turāth) in Lebanon. I investigate the impact of the revival on, firstly, the politics of identity and representation through the interplay between public and private heritage, and secondly, on music policies in education.

My PhD thesis is underpinned by the fields of postcolonial discourse on identity politics, sociology of nostalgia and musicological sources and I combined library research with fieldwork in Lebanon (during 2012 and 2013). I conclude that the impact of the Nahḍa revival revitalises a period of Arabic music that had become obsolete whilst fostering innovation and creativity within
contemporary Arabic music traditions.


  • 2017 'Between the "Colours of Enchantment" and the Shadow of Nostalgia : Revival and Innovation in Contemporary Lebanese Music Tradition'. Middle east and Central Asia Music Forum, 22/05/2017
  • 2013 'Revisiting Tradition in the New Millenniumm: Historical Overview and Comparative Analysis of the Processes of Change in the notion of Turath in the Maghreb and the Mashreq'


  • British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE)
  • International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM)
  • Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM)
  • Incorporated Society for Musicians (ISM)


  • Ethnomusicology and Anthropology of Music
  • Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian Music
  • Music Performance Studies
  • Sound Art and Contemporary Classical Musics
  • Music and Cultural Policy
  • Music and Development