Bachelor of Arts
Charles McGuire, Chair
Tunisia, Tunisian, Tunis, North Africa, Studies, Maghreb, Globalization, Hybridity, Fusion, Music, Ma'luf, National identity, Post-colonial, Postcolonial, Authenticity, Arabic, Jazz, Appalachian
The analytical trope of "hybridity" has a troubled past in the social sciences. The careless adoption of scientific terminology without adaptation to cultural contexts can result in dangerous consequences for ethnomusicology. This paper challenges, and ultimately accepts, the efficacy of "hybridity" as a model for musical contact. Mindful of essentialization, post-colonial situations, and the perils of over-generalization, ethnomusicology holds sophisticated tools for examining local understandings of hybridity and the role that fusions play in shaping identities. Approaching musics from internal perspectives returns agency to musicians and listeners, liberating the local experience from the cloaking paradigm of "hybridity" as a strict and predictable function of globalization.
This paper examines Tunisian conceptions of musical hybridity through two case studies: the French Jazz-inspired Tunisian ‘oud musician, Anouar Brahem, and the Arab-Appalachian band, "Kantara." Internal and external discourses of "Hybridity" suit the Tunisian soundscape. I demonstrate how intentionally hybrid musical projects (fusion and ma'luf in particular) inform and are informed by Tunisian cultural histories and identities. Describing "Tunisianness" is complex in a sovereign state only fifty-four years old and conquered by successive kingdoms, from the Phoenicians to the French. In Tunisia national identity thrives on inclusion and cultural layering. Pride and "authenticity" are often located in explicitly hybrid expressions, including music. Although anxieties of purism, preservation, and standardization have curbed some musical innovation, Tunisians connect deeply with fusion, hybrid musics that, for many, exemplify what it means to be Tunisian.
Colwell, Rachel R., "An Anxiety of Authenticity? Fusion Musics and Tunisian Identity" (2010). Honors Papers. 376.