Christopher Silver: Treasures from the Gharamophone Archive
Date & Location
About the Event
In the decades following the advent of the phonograph at the end of the nineteenth century, thousands of shellac records circulated across North Africa. Etched between their grooves were a stunning array of popular, classical, and folkloric songs, sketches and monologues, and the otherwise sublime sounds of an extended era of profound change. At mid-twentieth century, in the midst of decolonization, mass migration, as well as the appearance of vinyl, most of the region’s earliest phonograph records began to disappear––or at least were thought to. This presentation focuses on a particular aspect of that musical history: the rise of the recording industry in French colonial North Africa and the outsized role played by Jewish musicians therein. To do so, we will listen together to a number of rarities housed at Gharamophone.com, an online archive launched in 2017 to recover, digitize, and provide historical context for the Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian 78 rpm records that animated more than half a century.
Christopher Silver is the Segal Family Assistant Professor in Jewish History and Culture in the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University. He earned his PhD in History from UCLA. Recipient of awards from the Posen Foundation, the American Academy of Jewish Research, and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies, Silver’s scholarship on Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia has appeared in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Hespéris-Tamuda, AJS Perspectives, History Today, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia. His first book Recording History: Jews, Muslims, and Music Across Twentieth Century North Africa is forthcoming from Stanford University Press (2022).