Music and Sound at the Mediterranean Crossroads.Symposium in Essaouira, Morocco.

Report on a Conference co-organized by Alessandra Ciucci in Morocco with support from Center for Ethnomusicology and Global Humanities in Essaouira (Morocco), 18-23 June, 2018.

The twelfth symposium of the ICTM Study Group Mediterranean Music Studies took place in Essaouira (Morocco), 18-23 June, 2018 on the theme “Music and Sound at the Mediterranean Crossroads.” It was hosted at Dar Souiri by the Association Essaouira-Mogador and it was supported by the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, by a Global Humanities Projects Grant from the Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, and by the International Council for Traditional Music. This was the first meeting of the study group held in North Africa.

Co-organized by Alessandra Ciucci (Department of Music, Columbia University) and vice-Chair of the Study Group) and Ruth Davis (University of Cambridge and Chair of the Study Group), the symposium was generously assisted by André Azoulay (President and Founder of the Association Essaouira-Mogador). In the effort to recognize the diverse ways in which people sound, listen to and perform the Mediterranean, the symposium brought together academics and students working on themes related to music and sound in the Mediterranean, and aimed in particular to create a dialogue and facilitate the exchange of knowledge with scholars from the southern shores of the Mediterranean and the MENA region. The 67 participants at the symposium engaged in rich dialogue aiming to provide a different point of entry, through music and sound, to explore burning political questions in the Mediterranen, and envisaging this sea as a laboratory in which music and sound are essential for those who believe that the Mediterranean, Mare Nostrum, or al-Baḥr al-Abyad al-Mutawassiṭ is necessary for the future, rather than a geographic space of a past.

Held in conjunction with the Gnawa World Music Festival, the symposium benefitted from an audience that included academics, as well as Moroccans attending the festival who were interested in the diverse themes of the symposium. Two performances of traditional Moroccan music held at Dar Souiri, together with the numerous musical events associated with the Gnawa World Music Festival, enriched the academic debates of the symposium.

Photos by Sonja Kieser and Lhoussain Simour.