• The Swahili Art of Indian Taarab: A Poetics of Vocality and Ethnicity on the Kenyan Coast

    Author(s):
    Andrew Eisenberg (see profile)
    Date:
    2017
    Subject(s):
    African studies, Anthropology, Bollywood, Ethnomusicology, Sound/sound art
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Kenya, Swahili, taarab, vocality, Indian Ocean
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6NJ5F
    Abstract:
    Employing approaches from ethnomusicology and vocal anthropology, Eisenberg undertakes an interpretive-ethnographic analysis of Indian taarab, a genre of Swahili song on the Kenyan coast that features Swahili words set to Hindi film song melodies performed in a distinctly Indian style. Eisenberg argues that Swahili musicians and audiences derive pleasure and meaning from Indian taarab's paradoxical presentation of Indian sounds as Swahili expressions, and that this positions the genre as a vehicle for public reflection on Swahili ethnicity. Focusing on the voice and vocality, he explores how certain Indian taarab singers—the genre's “clowns”—engage in a reflexive critical analysis of Swahili ethnicity by playfully making audible the Indianness that resonates within the space of Swahili ethnicity (uswahili). Ultimately, the essay seeks to generate new perspectives on social identification among Kenyan coastal Muslims by taking an ethnographic ear to Indian taarab clowning and its “harlequin poetics.”
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    4 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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