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Sounding Religious Transnationalism

À l'écoute des transnationalisations religieuses

Revue « Civilisations », n°67

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Published on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 by João Fernandes

Summary

While the transnationalization and musical relocation of religion is historically related to evangelization, slavery and colonization, it can also be seen in the context of migration and, more broadly, in the movement of musicians, the circulation of songbooks and the distribution of recordings, on material or immaterial mediums. In all these contexts, we will attempt to understand how music circulates and conveys meanings that help to the rebuilding of symbolic universes, religious ideas, belongings and practices, or rituals, prayers and modes of incarnation of the divine.

Announcement

Civilisations, vol. 67

Argument

Far from being limited to the study of migration, the transnational approach has proved to be very fruitful in many fields. The work of Mark Slobin (1992 and 1993) provided important foundations for theorizing the issue of musical transnationalism. Recognizing the relevance of concepts as “flow” (Appadurai 2005) and “imagined communities” (Anderson 1996), Slobin used the notion of “scape” (Appadurai 2005) to explore the articulation of several “musical translocal contexts”.

Although interesting, this approach and those proposed by other scholars (Azcona 2005, Ramnarine 2007, Zheng 2010, O’Toole 2014) rarely engage in the analysis of music itself and generally offer a sociological view on popular and secular repertoires having acquired a transnational dimension or on musicians whose careers are part of transnational networks (Kiwan and Meinhof 2011).

In general, the relationships between music, transnationalism, migration, diaspora and/or diversity remain, despite some pioneering works (Slobin 1994, 2003; Ramnarine 1996; Manual 1997; Shelemay 1998; Um 2000; Knudsen 2001; Stokes 2004, 2007; Solis 2005; Muller 2006; Baily and Collyer 2006; Martiniello and Lafleur 2008; Toynbee and Dueck 2012; Krüger and Trandafoiu 2013; Pistrick 2015; Biermann, Ferran, Pistrick and Pouchelon 2015; Damon and Bachir-Loopuyt 2016), a field to explore.

In the religious field, we no longer count the insights provided by the transnational paradigm. Since the seminal work of Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch and Suzanne Blanc-Szanton (1992), Peter Beyer (1994) and Peggy Levitt (1998, 2001), the study of religious transnationalism has revealed the dynamics enabling the delocalization and relocation of beliefs, rituals and practices that disentangle from their original contexts and circulate through new flows, not necessarily underpinned by a missionary logic (Argyriadis, Capone, de la Torre and Mary 2012; Capone 2004, 2010; Salzbrunn 2015; Salzbrunn and von Weichs 2013).

Regarding the literature, however, few scholars have examined the links between music and religion in a transnational perspective (Scruggs 2005; Shelemay 2006; Clark 2006; Butler 2008; Carl 2014; Ferran and Fernando 2014; Ferran 2015; Salzbrunn 2016). The goal of this Special Issue is to explore further these relationships by examining how music and religion transnationalize together. Note that music is understood here in a broad sense and may refer not only to songs and repertoires, but also to musical instruments, rhythms, melodies, lyrics, rituals, processions, dances, gestures, musicians and their clothing, soundscapes or sound environments or ambient sounds, and any religious sounds, as for example calls for prayers, sounds of bells, shouts, cries, ululations, recitations and cantillations.

Given this definition, this Special Issue will attempt to answer the following questions. How, in which context and to what extent the mobility of music, musicians and musical mediums help to the propagation of religious ideas, identities and practices beyond national borders? In what way musical flows facilitate the building of interconnected religious networks that transcend nation-states? Finally, to what extent the processes of musical delocalization and relocation may lead to the formation of transnational or translocal religious communities that use a place of origin and one or several places of anchorage (more or less virtual or imagined) to build new belongings?

While the transnationalization and musical relocation of religion is historically related to evangelization, slavery and colonization, it can also be seen in the context of migration and, more broadly, in the movement of musicians, the circulation of songbooks and the distribution of recordings, on material (LPs, cassettes, CDs, DVDs) or immaterial (radio, television, Internet) mediums. In all these contexts, we will attempt to understand how music (as defined above) circulates and conveys meanings that help to the rebuilding of symbolic universes, religious ideas, belongings and practices, or rituals, prayers and modes of incarnation of the divine.

Main themes

Four themes will be explored:

1. Transnationalism from a historical standpoint. The transnationalization and translocalization of religion as a process has greatly changed since the beginning of the 20th century and should be examined through a musical lens, paying particular attention to the development of new technologies and the ever increasing migration of musicians. The examination of these driving forces will reveal whether such changes are truly original or recurrences of older phenomena.

2. New areas of fieldwork. The transnational nature of the music studied leads researchers to carry out fieldwork in both locally-based and multi-sited fieldworks (Marcus 1995; Coleman and Hellermann 2010). Although participative observation, interviews, and life story approach are still relevant, researchers sometimes need to corroborate their findings with second-hand sources, written or oral. In some instances, they must combine urban and rural surveys, while “cyber-fieldwork”, now unavoidable, sets various methodological problems.

3. Process analysis. The goal of this theme is to clarify the process of religious transnationalization and translocalization by examining the reception, appropriation, creation and (re)circulation of musical practices and objects. As an example, we could analyze the sacralization of secular music (or vice versa). The migration of musicians and their routes and networks are also of interest. In a dynamic migratory context in which religious and musical landscapes diversify and plurality becomes “audible” (Damon and Bachir-Loopuyt 2016), it would be of interest to highlight the stakes of power, of (re)appropriation and of escape from the institutional logics that drive the actors of transnationalization. Finally, we will emphasize the fact that certain processes happen in an interactive logic which is enacted by the music in contexts like the folklorization of belonging and the marketing of diversity. 

4. Poles and scales of identification. From specific examples, an area for research might be how the conjunction of music and religion takes part in the standardization or diversification of the world. We will wonder how the transnationalization of music is responsible for the creation of multiple belonging (Yuval-Davis, Viethen and Kannabiran 2006) and articulates religiosity, nationality, ethnicity and the wish to belong to various imagined communities.

Submission guidelines

Articles submissions in French or in British English (a title and a 300-words abstract) are to be sent to the Journal Secretariat and Editor

by 30 March 2017

(civilisations@ulb.ac.be and jnoret@ulb.ac.be) and to the Guest Editors of this Special Issue: Stefania Capone, Hugo Ferran and Monika Salzbrunn (hugo.ferran@gmail.com).

Civilisations is a peer-reviewed journal of anthropology. Published continuously since 1951, it features articles in French and English in the various fields of anthropology, without regional or time limitations. Revived in 2002 with a new editorial board and a new subtitle (Revue internationale d'anthropologie et de sciences humaines), Civilisations particularly encourage the submission of articles where anthropological approaches meet other social sciences, to better tackle processes of society making.

Editors

Special Issue edited by

  • Stefania Capone (CNRS/EHESS),
  • Hugo Ferran (EHESS)
  • Monika Salzbrunn (ISSRC/UNIL)

For more information, see http://civilisations.revues.org

Date(s)

  • Thursday, March 30, 2017

Keywords

  • musique, religion, transnationalisme

Contact(s)

  • Ferran Hugo
    courriel : hugo [dot] ferran [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Hugo Ferran
    courriel : hugo [dot] ferran [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Sounding Religious Transnationalism », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, https://calenda.org/391264

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