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Tower Seminar- Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish

October 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Presenters: Professor Helen Phelan, Dr. Abel Ugba, Dr Carmen Kuhling, Hala Jaber

Chair: Professor Helen Phelan

The religious ritual landscape in Ireland has changed dramatically over the last three decades. Changing attitudes towards Catholicism, the growth of new religious communities by new migrant groups, as well as the changing demographics of existing religions, have complicated and enriched Irish ritual experiences. This seminar looks particularly at the role of music in ritual communities in the negotiation of belonging and identity and marks the launch of the book Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish by Helen Phelan.


Prof Helen Phelan is the programme director of the PhD in Arts Practice at the Irish World Academy. She also served as course director of the MA Ritual Chant and Song programme for nine years. Her research interests are in the areas of performance studies, migrant studies, ritual studies, ritual song, arts practice research and music education philosophy. She is founder-director of Sanctuary, a Higher Education Authority initiative supporting the cultural expression of new migrant communities in Ireland. Her Irish Research Council funded project, Singing & Sustainable Social Integration is run in partnership with Doras Luimní. Her most recent book, Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish, was released by Oxford University Press in April, 2017.

Dr Abel Ugba is a senior lecturer in the School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London, London. His educational and professional background is in journalism and sociology. His journalism career began in a provincial newspaper in Nigeria in the mid-1980s. Abel has worked as an online journalist with ireland.com, the official website of the Dublin-based Irish Times. He was a co-publisher and the pioneering editor of Metro Eireann, Ireland’s multicultural newspaper. His research interests include immigrant religious and media practices, and media and development. He is the author of Shades of Belonging: African Pentecostals in Twenty-First Century Ireland. (Tenton New Jersey: Africa World Press 2009).

Dr Carmen Kuhling is a Senior Lecturer in sociology and has a PhD from York University, Canada. She has authored/ co- authored 5 books and numerous articles and book chapters on social change and Irish society, cultural identity and globalisation, and neoliberalism and social exclusion. She is also co-editor of the book Ireland’s New Religious Movements (2011). She presented work on this topic at the ‘Sacred Modernities’ conference in Oxford University in 2009, and in the Universities of Dalarna and Umea in Sweden in 2010. She published an article on this theme in the journal Études irlandaises in 2014.

Hala Jaber is a doctoral researcher on the Arts Practice PhD programme at the Irish World Academy. She is a graduate of the MA Community Music programme. She studied music and classical flute as an undergraduate and became involved with ‘Musicians without Borders’, working with children in Palestinian refugee camps. She currently runs a ‘newcomers’ music group in Limerick city and assists in the coordination of the Irish World Music Café, as well as acting as an Arabic translator for a number of Syrian refugee groups. Her research concerns community music interventions with post-conflict migrants.


October 11, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Theatre 2, Irish World Academy
Ireland + Google Map