The Arab Avant-Garde: Musical Innovation in the Middle East
Edited by Thomas Burkhalter, Kay Dickinson and Benjamin J. Harbert
We are currently soliciting chapter proposals for an anthology on the largely under-researched area of avant-garde music affiliated to the Arab world. All definitions of experimentalism and any disciplinary (or anti-disciplinary) approaches will be considered as we are hoping to produce as varied a volume as possible. The Arab avant-garde is to be taken as boundary work from both perspectives of pulling from the outside of tradition and of pushing from the inside of tradition; in other words, both iconoclasm and radical traditional expansion are equal targets. That said, discussions of the avant- garde as repeated practices of established boundary work or investigations into conventional vanguards are also welcome.
The Arab Avant-Garde, as a title, mobilizes two already complicated concepts whose alignment asks a number of challenging questions. Firstly, there are the issues of invoking the avant-garde – a term with particularly Eurocentric resonances – within a supposedly “other” geopolitical imaginary. Here one might wish to: draw on or challenge the models of alternative modernities; posit crucial lineages of radical innovation within or via the Arab world; critique or reaffirm the presumed stabilities of “tradition”; or insist upon shared global projects of cultural rejuvenation that do not prioritize points of arrival or departure.
Then there are issues of place to consider. To what extent is the Arab avant-garde partially constructed from “outside” as, for example, a marketing category and what are the political repercussions of this? What might we mean by “Arab” anyhow, and where, amidst this term, could we place stateless minority groups such as the Kurds or settled diaspora groups? How do the fraught histories of nationalisms and other unities frame the Arab avant-garde? And where might all this be situated, in terms of origins, performance or suitable places for scholarly attention, to name but a few crucial locales?
In order to address these intricate problematics, we encourage work from diverse disciplinary traditions, including and traversing: music, history, cultural studies, ethnography, Middle East area studies, sociology and subcultural geography. We would happily welcome straight academic essays, as well as more experimental submissions, interviews and translations. Word lengths to be negotiated.
Deadline for short abstract: 5.May 2008
Please email the abstract to: firstname.lastname@example.org