research was supported by the John Paul Simon Guggenheim
Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the
Fulbright-Hays Foundation, the American Institute of
Maghreb Studies and the University of Texas at Austin.
(1) All transcribed words are in Moroccan Arabic dialect. Moroccan Arabic is noted for its hybrid properties, having incorporated Berber syntax as well as Berber, French and Spanish lexical items. Moroccan Arabic also shortens many vowels to the schwa (written here simply as "e"), or does away with vocalization entirely. See Heath 1987.
(2) "The invocation of utopia references what, following Seyla Benhabibs suggestive lead, I propose to call the politics of transfiguration. The emphasizes the emergence of qualitatively new desires, social relations, and modes of association within the racial community of interpretation and resistance and between that group and its erstwhile oppressors. It points specifically to the formation of a community of needs and solidarity which is magically made audible in the music itself and palpable in the social relations of its cultural utility and reproduction. Created under the very nose of its overseers, the utopian desires which fuel the complementary politics of transfiguration must be invoked by other, more deliberately opaque means. This politics exists on a lower frequency when it is played, danced, and acted, as well as sung and sung about, because words, even words stretched by melisma and supplemented or mutated by the screams which still index the conspicuous power of the slave sublime, will never be enough to communicate its unsayable claims to truth. The willfully damaged signs which betray the resolutely utopian politics of transfiguration therefore partially transcend modernity, constructing both an imaginary anti-modern past and a postmodern yet-to-come. This is not a counter-discourse but a counterculture that defiantly reconstructs its own critical, intellectual and moral genealogy in a partially hidden public sphere of its own. The politics of transfiguration therefore reveals the hidden fissures in the concept of modernity. The bounds of politics are extended precisely because this tradition of expression refuses to accept that the political is a readily separable domain. Its basic desire is to conjure up and enact new modes of friendship, happiness and solidarity that are consequent on the overcoming of the racial oppression on which modernity and its antimony of rational, western progress as excessive barbarity relied." (Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, pp. 37-38)
(3) There is little published in English on the Gnawa (but see Schuyler 1981), and very little published at all (but see Hell 1999; Lapassade 1997, 1990; Pacques 1991). The historical records regarding slavery and the early documented practices of this subculture have yet to be examined closely. Research on the Gnawa thus fills a lacunae in the literature about the history of Morocco (Laroui 1982; see Fuson 2001), while also engaging the literature on trance (Boddy 1989; Lambek 1993) and aesthetics (Classen 1993; Csordas 1993; Feld 1982; Howes 1991) as they impact trans-national trends (Erlmann 1996, 1996a; Feld 1995; Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998; Marcus and Myers 1994) as well as representations of race (Gates 1988; Gilroy 1994; Kelly 1998; West 1993).
(4) An international port before WWII, Tangier attracted artists from Europe and America, as well as the ultra-rich. One thinks of the luxuriously-colored paintings of Eugene De la Croix, the seedy novels of Paul Bowles and the decadent parties of Malcolm Forbes, for example. Literary depictions of Tangier usually portray the city through the lens of expatriate fantasy, citing intrigue, danger, and seduction. And certainly there is a bit of all three in Tangier, mostly due to the drug trade. On the other hand, Tangier today is a city with a huge illegal immigrant population, poor sanitation and few cultural resources. Fortunately the winds from the surrounding waters blow most of the pollution away. But the winds in some seasons do not let the people rest. The chergi, the east wind, blows (if not eternal, at least) often.
(5) As the music on this c.d. in Dar Gnawa was an unlabeled and home-burned compilation, I was unable to ascertain the artists. The music here is a stylistic approximation of the music we listened to that day.
(6) Abdullah is a fluent speaker of Moroccan Arabic, French, and Spanish. He also speaks English with quite a bit of proficiency (I discovered this when I heard him speaking on the United States tour). He reads and writes classical Arabic and can elevate his dialect to a more "classicalized" Arabic with ease.
(7) Abdullah was not opposed to me publishing the photographs here, since the names are indistinguishable. His concern is with disseminating information that is not exact concerning the Tangier lila.
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