FIGHTING THE BEAST WITH MUSIC – Refugee Identity Reconstruction Processes – ANIM case study

Research paper

Humanity is in crisis. This research focuses on one of today’s most growing issues, the refugee crisis, and combines this reality with the power that music, as an artistic and pedagogical manifestation, can have in the process of integrating refugees into the context of the host country. We want to build strategies that allow displaced people to feel integrated through the demonstration of their culture and identity, relieving them of the bureaucratic processes that characterize applications for refugee status, based on the premise of music as an expression of integration and a promoter of cooperation (Guerra, 2015).

Since integration is a two-way process, the project aims to address the collaborative nature of music and its ability to provide spaces for dialogue between refugees and the host community. In the specific context of music teaching, this research aims to propose new perspectives for teachers in raising students’ awareness of musical multiculturalism and an increasingly global reality in the Portuguese and European space, with the aim of enriching their academic/school career with new interpretations, greater knowledge of the global musical panorama and the development of a more conscious citizenship of society – an invitation to discover in music a language of integration.

ANIM (Afghanistan National Institute of Music) is an excellent example for this case study, due to its history, mission and humanitarian work in music education in Afghanistan. By means of a qualitative approach through ethnographic observation of this orchestra’s rehearsals, we will refine and develop the concept of affordances postulated by DeNora (2000, 2002). This theoretical-analytical effort is crucial here to the extent that the music performed by these young people takes on a mediating role in relation to social actions and experiences, shaping new subjectivities and their externalisations. It is a technology of the self of (re)adaptation, resistance and identity re-emergence, as we have seen in other contexts (Guerra et al., 2021, 2016).


Guerra, P. (org.) (2015). More Than Loud. Os mundos dentro de cada som. Porto: Edições Afrontamento.

Guerra, P.; S., Sofia & Lima, J. C. (2021). Viagens feitas de sons. Contributos para uma (re)escrita de diásporas de mulheres imigrantes de leste em Portugal. NAVA, 6(1-2), 298-323, DOI

DeNora, T. (2000). Music in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

DeNora, T. (2002). Music into action: performing gender on the Viennese concert stage, 1790–1810’.

About the speaker

Ângela Raquel Machado Teles, Viola

Ângela Teles has pursued studies in Music – Interpretation, specializing in Viola at Minho University, where she also obtained a Master’s Degree in Music Teaching. She has been serving as an instrumentalist and viola teacher at the Artistic School of the Calouste Gulbenkian Conservatory of Music in Braga since 2013. Currently, Ângela is furthering her studies with a Master’s degree in History, International Relations, and Cooperation at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto. Her dissertation focuses on “Fighting the Beast with Music: Processes of identity reconstitution, a case study of ANIM.” Ângela has actively participated in and led various national and international volunteer projects and is a member of the Sar Team.