Performing al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean (Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa)

 
9780253017567: Performing al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean (Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa)

Performing al-Andalus explores three musical cultures that claim a connection to the music of medieval Iberia, the Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus, known for its complex mix of Arab, North African, Christian, and Jewish influences. Jonathan Holt Shannon shows that the idea of a shared Andalusian heritage animates performers and aficionados in modern-day Syria, Morocco, and Spain, but with varying and sometimes contradictory meanings in different social and political contexts. As he traces the movements of musicians, songs, histories, and memories circulating around the Mediterranean, he argues that attention to such flows offers new insights into the complexities of culture and the nuances of selfhood.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Holt Shannon is Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College, CUNY. He is author of Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria and A Wintry Day in Damascus: Syrian Stories.

Review:

[A] major intervention into the emergent field of Andalusian music studies: it is amongst the first full-blown anthropological studies of these traditions, and the first to attempt a cross-cultural comparative perspective. . . . [A] thought-provoking and illuminating study of the role played by the image and memory of al-Andalus in the modern Mediterranean world. (Carl Davila SUNY College at Brockport)

In this elegant, innovative ethnography of pan-Mediterranean musical connections, Jonathan Shannon identifies a protean 'rhetoric of al-Andalus' that intersects, crosscuts, undermines, and reaffirms standard historical narratives and contemporary national boundaries. Linking musical performance to artistic and political discourses, he reveals alternative imaginaries of belonging, and suggests the productive potential of nostalgia Performing al-Andalus illustrates how competing notions of Umayyad Spain―a Muslim golden age for Islamists, an idyll of tolerance for secularists―serve to critique a challenging present and inspire visions of a different future. (Christa Salamandra Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY)

Performing al-Andalus is a timely intervention in one of the most crucial debates of our time: the relationship between the Arab world and the West. With great erudition, delicacy of feeling, and stylistic elegance Shannon explores the feelings of commonality and estrangement through which musicians and audiences in Syria, Morocco, and Spain remember a bygone era of multicultural conviviality and envision a shared future in a new Mediterranean--beyond rigid terrestrial cartographies, beyond shipwrecked refugees, beyond the 'war on terror,' and beyond Islamophobia. A must-read. (Veit Erlmann University of Texas)

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