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 Musical Afterlives of al-Andalus: Identities and Encounters beyond History

Academic Workshop 

9–11 September, 2021, online


*** Please note the workshop is closed to the public, but a publication will arise from the event. If you are interested in finding out more information, please contact: *** 



The notion of al-Andalus as a site of tolerance and exchange far expands the borders of the Iberian Peninsula. The idea of interfaith dialogue in Medieval Spain has become something of an ideological ‘commodity’, one that is traded for various social, cultural and political agendas around the world. While historical work has debunked the ‘myth’ of al-Andalus as a ‘model of tolerance and coexistence’ (Anidjar 2006: 235), the perverseness of al-Andalus as a trope for intercultural dialogue is apparent. Yet, while al-Andalus may be ‘good to think’ (Shannon 2015: 29), it has a chequered past given its intricate ties with European colonialism in North Africa (Calderwood 2018) and various nationalist projects around the Mediterranean.


Music plays an important role in bringing al-Andalus into dialogue with the present. The aim of this workshop is to examine the musical ‘afterlives’ of al-Andalus and how different interpretations of the period are presented through music for a range of social and political ends, in both colonial and postcolonial contexts. The workshop considers the complex ways in which music is harnessed by practitioners, audiences, institutions, governments and industries to put al-Andalus into dialogue with various social and political issues, such as colonial propaganda, intercultural dialogue, nationalism, cultural diplomacy and political protest.


The workshop brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, facilitating a comparative approach across a number of geographical contexts and musical genres. Existing research in the area has tended to focus on how the concept of al-Andalus is articulated musically in national contexts, especially across Southern Europe and the Maghreb. Asides from Jonathan Shannon’s book Performing al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean (2015) and Ruth Davis’ edited volume Musical Exodus: Al-Andalus and its Jewish Diaspora (2015), there is no comprehensive book project that draws together different case studies from across various geographical and political contexts. As such, this workshop will lead towards the first edited collection (by Matthew Machin-Autenrieth and Charles Hirschkind) to examine the multiple, and sometimes contradictory, ways in which al-Andalus is envisioned through music.

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