The Role Of Gesture In Traditional Narratives

Evening class

This class has already happened.

Lauren Gawne

The Role Of Gesture In Traditional Narratives

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 18:45

The gestures that we use when we speak are an often-overlooked part of what makes us human. This evening we will learn how gestures are closely linked to the human language faculty. We will also examine how gesture and culture are closely linked. Finally, we will look at how gesture is a unique part of human cognition that differentiates us from computers and also from other animals.

More about Lauren Gawne

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.