The Lost ParadiseAndalusi Music in Urban North Africa

The Lost ParadiseAndalusi Music in Urban North Africa

Jonathan Glasser

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226327068

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Patrimony--the idea of a collective, inalienable inheritance--is a powerful way for nation-states to externalize notions of continuity, discreteness, and vigilance against loss. But in the process of being externalized through a patrimonial object, such notions become entangled with the object's particular qualities and conditions of existence. This book asks what happens when that patrimonial object is a musical practice--in this case, an urban North African vocal and instrumental tradition known as Andalusi music. For many North Africans, Andalusi music is an emblem of local, national, and transnational authenticity that transcends the European colonial intrusion, a high-prestige, Arabic-language repertoire said to originate in "the lost paradise" of al-Andalus, medieval Islamic Spain. For more than a century, its devotees have rallied a range of technologies and institutions to attempt to save Andalusi music from the threat of disappearance. But these revivalist efforts come back to a common question: how to fashion a national, public, resilient musical patrimony out of a practice that is understood to be embodied in highly localized, genealogically embedded, and sometimes secretive individual authorities? Rooted in ethnographic and archival research that focuses on the Andalusi musical tradition of Algiers, Tlemcen, and their Algerian and Moroccan borderlands since the end of the nineteenth century, The Lost Paradise is a meditation on temporality, value, labor, personhood, and the relationship of the living to the dead.