Forest Voices: The Baka Rainforest Pople And Their Fight For Cultural Survival

Evening class

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Martin Cradick

Forest Voices: The Baka Rainforest Pople And Their Fight For Cultural Survival

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 18:45

The Baka live in a world of giant trees and natural sounds where to listen ensures survival. Over thousands of years their culture has become extraordinarily musical. Song and dance permeate their lives for ritual, for fun, and to unite and create harmony within the group. The Baka’s traditional lifestyle is currently under threat as they are being forced out of their forest home to live in roadside villages. Here they face extreme poverty, discrimination and exploitation and are made ashamed of their forest traditions. Global Music Exchange has been taking a a group of Baka musicians around other Baka villages all around Southern Cameroon. The concerts draw the disparate populations together where, after the music, they are shown films in the Baka language and encouraged to speak to camera so that their voices can be heard. A young film-maker, Davey Poremba made a film of the December 2015 tour and this film will form the main part of the talk. After the film Martin will present a question and answer session where any aspect of Baka life and their current situation can be discussed.

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Evening class information

Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.

Next evening class

Tamara Turner

The Musical Precipitation Of Spirits, Saints, And Selves: Ritual, Music, And Trance In Algerian Popular Islam
Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

Algerian diwan is a Sufi-inspired music ritual tradition that coalesced out of the trans-Saharan slave trade with the displacement of sub-Saharan populations in Algeria, particularly Hausa, Bambara, and Songhay ethnolinguistic groups. Under three centuries of Ottoman rule, sub-Saharan communities were heavily influenced by the local, popular religious practices and socio-political organization of Sufi brotherhoods. Consequently, diwan developed into a syncretic Afro-Maghrebi ritual practice drawing from what are often labeled 'pre-Islamic, animist, magical' ritual practices of 'black Africa' (bīlād es-sūdān) while absorbing many of the same structures of other musical traditions within popular Islam rooted in North Africa: saint veneration, trance, and ritual healing. In diwan rituals, music precipitates and structures emotional trance and spirit possession trance by 'heating' the energy ('ḥāl') of the ritual in order to 'call' the spirits to possess the bodies of hosts. My ethnographic approach arises out of this fundamental, local concept of ḥāl: a collective, affectively attuned, and nuanced social field without which trance of any kind is impossible. By fleshing out the sensorial phenomena of ḥāl and its local narrative, I examine the role of musico-ritual aesthetics to attend to physical, mental, and emotional needs of diwan adepts and to provide the means for spirits and saints to be reconciled with multiple aspects of the self and the diwan community at large.