Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace

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Wesleyan University Press, Oct 26, 2007 - History - 325 pages
A group of ritual musicians and former slaves brought from sub-Saharan Africa to Morocco, the Gnawa heal those they believe to be possessed, using incense, music, and trance. But their practice is hardly of only local interest: the Gnawa have long participated in the world music market through collaborations with African-American jazz musicians and French recording artists. In this first book in English on Gnawa music and its global reach, author Deborah Kapchan explores how these collaborations transfigure racial and musical identities on both sides of the Atlantic. She also addresses how aesthetic styles associated with the sacred come to inhabit non-sacred contexts, and what new amalgams they produce. Her narrative details the fascinating intrinsic properties of trance, including details of enactment, the role of gesture and the body, and the use of the senses, and how they both construct authentic Gnawa identity and reconstruct historically determined relations of power. Traveling Spirit Masters is a captivating and elucidating demonstration of how and why trance—and indeed all sacred music—is fast becoming a transnational sensation.
 

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Contents

Initiation i
1
THE CULTURE OF POSSESSION
3
Emplacement i
11
Intoxication
24
A Gesture Narrowly Divides Us From Chaos Gesture and Word in Trance Time
47
Working the Spirits The Entranced Body the Entranced Word
81
On the Threshold of a Dream
106
POSSESSING CULTURE
121
In France with the Gnawa
151
Narratives of Epiphany Indexing Global Links
176
Possessing Gnawa Culture Displaying Sound Creating History in Dar Gnawa
210
Conclusion The Alchemy of the Musical Imagination
232
Epilogue
240
Notes
243
Acknowledgments
279
Bibliography
281

The Chellah Gardens
123
Money and the Spirit
129

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About the author (2007)

DEBORAH KAPCHAN is an associate professor of performance studies at New York University. She is the author of Gender on the Market: Moroccan Women and the Revoicing of Tradition (1996).

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