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Mon, Sep 30



Lecture Chouki El Hamel - The Making of Gnawa, a historical synthesis of black Morocco

Explore the depths of history during the literary evening and debate on Monday 30/9, from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM at the ULB. Join Chouki el Hamel as he illuminates the history of Morocco in “The Making of Gnawa, a Historical Synthesis of Black Morocco.” An evening full of insight!

Lecture Chouki El Hamel - The Making of Gnawa, a historical synthesis of black Morocco
Lecture Chouki El Hamel - The Making of Gnawa, a historical synthesis of black Morocco

Time & Location

Sep 30, 2024, 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM

Brussel, Franklin Rooseveltlaan 50, 1050 Brussel, België

About the event

Chouki El Hamel is director of the Center for Maghrib Studies and a professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University, specializing in West and Northwest Africa who is particularly interested in the subaltern relationship of servile and marginalized communities to Islamic ruling institutions. His research into these relationships revolves around issues of slavery, race/ethnicity/color, gender, power/class, and restorative justice. He published two books, among which Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race, and Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2013, translated into French in 2019). He recently published The Story Map: Race & Slavery, a website that provides an excellent entry to a wider public-facing debate about slavery and race in North Africa.

Gnawa are known to have created a hypnotic, rhythmic and beautiful music. This beautiful music brought Gnawa admirers from all over the world. But the people who represent this art didn’t lead an easy life. The story of the Gnawa people is deeply rooted in the history of a specific slave community. Gnawa, as late Randy Weston observed, is like hearing “the black church, jazz and the blues all at the same time.

Gnawa represents the diaspora of black West Africans in Morocco, the majority of whom were forcefully transported across the Sahara and sold in different parts of Morocco. The historical journey of the Gnawa in Morocco and their fascinating integration into the Moroccan social landscape, still retain a cultural and a social distinctiveness. The Gnawa as a spiritual and a musical group became a quasi-corporate community that absorbed and empowered all black participants from different ethnic backgrounds. The historical agency of this enslaved and marginalized group is clearly expressed in the lyrics of their songs. Hence, their songs expand the archive of black subjectivity. The very existence of Gnawa is a testimony of the lived experience of black Moroccans. The interest in Gnawa music can be attributed largely to Jazz Ambassadors like Randy Weston, an international appeal which led to the establishment of the Gnawa and World Music Festival in Essaouira in the end of the 1990’s.

Tickets 5,00€

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