Dr. Matthew Machin-Autenrieth
University of Aberdeen
Dr. Matthew Machin-Autenrieth is a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the Department of Music, University of Aberdeen and the Principal Investigator for the European Research Council funded project ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters across the Strait of Gibraltar’ (2018–23). He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge (until 2023). Matthew completed his Masters and PhD in Ethnomusicology at Cardiff University. Following his studies, Matthew was appointed as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2014–17) and then Senior Research Associate (2018–20). Matthew’s research spans three main areas: the relationship between music and regional identity in nation states; heritage studies; and music, diaspora and postcolonial studies. He is the author of the monograph Flamenco, Regionalism and Musical Heritage in Southern Spain (Routledge, 2017), as well as a number of articles relating to flamenco, regional identity politics and Moroccan immigration.
Matthew’s research explores how a shared Spanish–Moroccan cultural memory rooted in the utopian past of al-Andalus is performed through music, weaving in and out of history, and traversing incompatible and at times conflicting ideologies. Drawing on collaborations between flamenco and Arab-Andalusian music, musicians and cultural institutions often use the idea of a shared musical heritage to promote the intercultural ideals of convivencia – the alleged peaceful coexistence of Christians, Jews and Muslims in medieval Spain. Combining archival and ethnographic research, this project explores how music can construct and problematise the concept of a shared cultural memory between Morocco and Spain. It traces the emergence of the narrative of a shared musical heritage during Spanish colonialism in Morocco (1912–56). Flamenco’s alleged sonic affinities and historical links with Moroccan Arab-Andalusian music were a useful tool for the legitimisation of Spanish colonialism, but also presented a way for Moroccans to negotiate their position within the constraints of colonial rule. However, such music making has not ended with Moroccan independence, and the colonial narrative of a Spanish-Moroccan ‘brotherhood’ continues to influence music making today. Given the high levels of Moroccan immigration in Southern Spain, ‘flamenco-andalusí’ fusions are often invoked as a model for interculturalism and as a form of cultural diplomacy with Morocco. But such projects may obscure the realities of immigration, promoting a utopian view of intercultural relations that hides issues around racism, rising populist nationalism and the rejection of the andalusí past. Focusing on case studies such as colonial expositions, contemporary festivals, projects of cultural diplomacy, protest movements and day-to-day intercultural music making, this project crosses colonial and postcolonial periods to explore how a musical ‘brotherhood’ has been interpreted and performed by musicians and institutions.