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Richard Jankowsky
TRUSTEES OF TUFTS COLLEGE INC (Somerville, MA 02144-2401)
The Role of Devotional Music in Modern Tunisia

A book-length study of Sufi music in Tunisia, examining its proliferation among both Sufis and non-Sufis.

In Tunisia, musics involving praise songs to Sufi saints are not exclusive to members of Sufi orders. Rather, a number of distinct healing and devotional musical traditions co-exist, each associated with particular social and devotional communities. In this project, I show how four such traditions, those of women, Tunisians of sub-Saharan descent, the Jewish community, and even hard-drinking laborers, contribute to a larger ecology of Tunisian Sufi music that also includes a variety of Sufi rituals as well as staged concerts. “Ambient Sufism” draws attention to the connections among these different musics and emphasizes their public audibility, which is now at risk in the new socio-religious climate of post-revolutionary Tunisia. Based on fieldwork between 2009 and 2015, this book highlights the voices of participants and analyzes their musical practices to account for the under-acknowledged role of music and pleasure, as well as the importance of minorities, in Islamic practice.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Ethnomusicology; Music History and Criticism

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018