Mena Mark Hanna


Lecture in English

In 1967, Michel Foucault described his current epoch as one being concerned with space, that is, a space which is geographic or liminal, political or ideological, occupied or free. With an increasing preoccupation with space in late capitalism, Foucault’s concern grows into disquietude, using artistic spaces, for example, to engage with the politics of land use, race, and sustainability, or using concepts of decoloniality and critical whiteness to critique some of our most hallowed artistic spaces.

This lecture series will engage with space, cultural and performative practice, and political engagement in the arts, pivoting around the following set of evolving questions: What are spaces of exclusion and inclusion in artistic practice? In what ways can art contribute to spatial justice? How are spaces racialized and segregated artistically? And how do artistic spaces capture, reflect, or comment upon socio-political ideologies?


Mena Mark Hanna
A Home for the Bewildered: the Paradox of Concert Hall and Heterotopia

In attempting to describe the concert hall and its functions as a heterotopia, I am essentially trying to explain certain types of “otherness” that can be experienced through the concert hall. As a cultural and discursive space, the concert hall experience can be transformative, perturbing, and contradictory, an extension, I argue, of a classical music culture industry that has exclusive norms, practices, social contracts, and orders.

The concert hall is a distillation of one of the most curious paradoxes at the heart of the classical music experience: how can the same thing be seen as being, simultaneously, so universal and so exclusionary to different people? I propose an answer rooted in postcolonial discourse.

Prof. Dr. Mena Mark Hanna

Mena Mark Hanna is Dean of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and Professor of Musicology and Composition. He received his Ph.D. from Merton College, Oxford, where he studied musicology and music composition. Prior to coming to Berlin, Hanna was assistant artistic director and dramaturg at Houston Grand Opera and visiting scholar in musicology at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Hanna’s research and teaching interests include Middle Eastern chant; music of the 20th and 21st centuries; post-colonialism, music pedagogy, and performance traditions; and composition and electronic music. Recent lectures and publications include “A Horribly Discordant Noise: The Problem of Colonization in Classical Music” at the European Institute of the Mediterranean in Barcelona, Spain; “The Conversation by Music: from Divided Past to Unified Tomorrow” at the Gyeonggi Arts Center, South Korea; “How Early Can You Go? Coptic Chant in Western Transcription” in Journal of the ISOCM, Volume 3; and “Music and the Religious Imagination” in Religious Imaginations: How Narratives of Faith are Shaping Today’s World (The Gingko Library: London, 2019).

He is a recipient of Temple University’s inaugural Honors Distinguished Alumni Award and the Marshall Scholarship. His compositions have been premiered at the Fondation Royaumont, the Darmstadt New Music Festival, and ISCM World Music Days, and performed by Ensemble Linea, Les Cris de Paris, the Cygnus Ensemble, the Momenta Quartet, and others. Hanna is curator of the Edward W. Said Days at the Barenboim-Said Akademie and serves as Trustee of the Gingko Library; he is on the advisory boards of the Mahler Foundation, Houston Grand Opera, and the Time In Children’s Art Initiative in New York.