Performing freedom

The role of music-making in creating a community in asylum seeker detention centres

This article puts forward a reimagining of the concept of community in an immigration detention centre that emerged from the creation of cultural and performative spaces. It is argued that conceptualizing immigration detention centres as accidental communities can contribute to an understanding of the impact of participatory music-making activities in these spaces on the well-being of detainees. The research is based on the analysis of music facilitators' narratives of their experience in an Australian detention centre in 2012. Accidental communities are defined as those in which people are connected not through common culture or region, but who have been brought together by circumstance, and whose shared experience therefore forms the basis of their relationships within the community. It is proposed that participation in music-making activities in an accidental community informs a cultural space on the basis of expression of that experience rather than cross-cultural sharing and that the resultant politics of inclusion have a positive impact on the well-being of the detainees.

Journal International Journal of Community Music
Year 2016
Volume 9
Issue 2
Pages 121-134

Lenette, Caroline; Weston, Donna (2016) Performing freedom: The role of music-making in creating a community in asylum seeker detention centres. In: International Journal of Community Music, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 121-134. Available at


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