As immigrant communities from the Arab world have made their homes in Ohio and across North America, they have used music to both reinforce connections to the past and create new relationships. In this way, music provides for a nuanced and contested set of models for performing and presenting heritage. Musical performances, listening to recordings together, and the memory of social musical activity shows intentional efforts to negotiate seemingly conflicting values. On one hand, melodies and gestures based in Arab classical musical styles highlight a connection to the Middle East’s traditions. On the other, aesthetic choices emphasize assimilation and change. In each case, communities embed music with ideas and ideologies of authenticity, heritage, nostalgia, identity, and meaning. This demonstrates the importance of sound and the complexity of debates about what Arab America is and should be within the contemporary world.

"Music in Arab America" is a collaborative effort to better understand and share the many roles that music can play within the lives of Arab American community members. Organized and edited by Dr. Christopher Witulski (Associate Teaching Professor of Ethnomusicology, Bowling Green State University), it includes presentations from members of the Arab American community as well as conversations between musicians and scholars on topics ranging from memory and nostalgia to meaning, performance, professional life, activism, and creativity. These audio and video recordings are publicly available and hosted by the Bowling Green State University libraries at

"Music in Arab America" was supported by the Institute for the Study of Culture & Society at Bowling Green State University and BGSU’s College of Musical Arts. This program is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Please contact Christopher Witulski ( with any questions or comments.



Ramy Adly's musical creativity, Ramy Adly and Christopher Witulski
Details: Streaming audio, 33:39

Rahim Alhaj: Music, Borders, and the US Southwest, Rahim Alhaj and Andrea Shaheen Espinosa
Details: Streaming audio, 41:50

Imad al-Taha with Anne K. Rasmussen, Imad al-Taha and Anne K. Rasmussen
Details: Streaming audio, 37:01

The Arab music scene in New York City, Fadi Bardawil, Sami Abu Shumays, Nicole LeCorgne, and Johnny Farraj
Details: Streaming audio, 52:57

SWANA. Queer. Immigrant. Punk.: Finding Family at YallaPunk, Rana Fayez and Michael A. Figueroa
Details: Streaming audio, 33:48

Anaphrodisiac: Desiring Roots in Diaspora, Kamal Hallou and Jillian Fulton-Melanson
Details: Streaming audio, 50:04

Politicization of Arab America, Michael Ibrahim and Christopher Witulski
Details: Streaming audio, 39:17

Being an Arab American, Ronnie Malley
Details: Streaming audio, 14:40

Introduction to Levant Folk Music: An Auditory Excursion, Gaby Semaan and Remon Maamary
Details: Streaming audio, 30:55

The Role of Qur’anic Recitation in Shaping Nostalgia, Piety, and Identity Among Egyptians in Diaspora, Mariam A. Shalaby
Details: Streaming video, 18:50

Transcending consciousness, Mirza Shams, Radia Ali, and Aliah Ajamoughli
Details: Streaming video, 43:44

Layth Sidiq: creativity and collaboration, Layth Sidiq and Christopher Witulski
Details: Streaming audio, 35:40

Ahmad Tofiq: learning and teaching style, Ahmad Tofiq and Beau Bothwell
Details: Streaming audio, 59:05