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Mar 2 2022

Ancestral Voices: The Musical and Spiritual Technologies of Sidi Dhammal/Goma


Ancestral Voices: The Musical and Spiritual Technologies of Sidi Dhammal/Goma

Lecture by Jazmin Graves Eyssallenne, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, African American and African Diaspora Studies
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Sidis, or Indians of East African ancestry, living in Gujarat state and the city of Mumbai have navigated the interstices of marginal identities. Sidis have faced anti-black racism, the exoticization and exploitation of their musical performance tradition, and violent targeting based on their religious identity as Muslims. Nevertheless, Sidis’ reverence for their ancestral saints - African Sufis who settled in Gujarat in the fourteenth century - provides the foundation for resilience and the proud preservation of African cultural heritage. Building on the concepts of “ngoma consciousness” and its “spiritual technologies” as propounded by Nkosenathi Koela (University of Cape Town), Jazmin Graves Eyssallenne examines the devotional song lyrics, musical instruments, and ritual practices of Sidi dhammal as they forge intergenerational links between Sidi ancestor-saints and ‘descendant’-devotees in western India. This presentation is a tribute to renowned ethnomusicologists Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, the late Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, and to the late Rumanaben Sidi of Ahmedabad.

Dr. Jazmin Eyssallenne (née Graves) is an assistant professor in the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Jazmin received her Ph.D. from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 2021. Jazmin's research centers on the Sufi devotional music and rituals of Sidis, Indians of African ancestry, in western India. Jazmin co-edited the three-volume publication, Afro-South Asia in the Global African Diaspora (2020). She was named one of the MIPAD Global Top 100 Most Influential People of African Descent Under 40 in 2018 for her service project the Ahmedabad Sidi Heritage and Educational Initiative. In 2017, Jazmin organized the “Scholars at the Intersection of South Asian and Africana Studies” conference at Howard University, bringing together an international community of educators to present their innovative research and introduce opportunities for student involvement. Jazmin’s research, teaching, and service engages her in the Ethiopian and East African Studies Research Network and the Islamic Studies Research Network at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Part of the Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy Colloquium Series, this event is sponsored by The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology, with support from the Dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

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