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Music and the Battle for Granada's Past

Granada abierta 'No a la Toma' (Jan 2019). Photo by Matthew Machin-Autenrieth

I have just published a small piece for the University of Cambridge's website about my recent fieldwork at the Día de la Toma festival in Granada (January 2019), co-authored with Tom Almeroth-Williams (Communications Manager).

You can access the piece here:

For years I have been wanting to visit the Día de la Toma, a festival that celebrates the 'taking' of the Alhambra palace from Muslim rule in 1492 by the Catholic monarchs. In January 2019, I finally had the opportunity to see events for myself. The festival has become highly politicised as different groups seek to promote their own agenda. On the one hand, the festival has become a mouthpiece for the far-right and a nationalist, anti-immigration stance, in city that has a significant Moroccan and Muslim population. On the the other hand, there are a number of protests against the event and calls to transform it into a 'festival of tolerance', in recognition of the city's multicultural past and present.

In this piece, I talk about the role music and sound play in the Día de la Toma. I focus on research with a group called Granada abierta, which opposes the festival as a falsification of history and an affront to the historical legacies of their city. Music, and particularly flamenco, has become an important part of Granada abierta's message. In the piece, I draw on interviews and field recordings in Granada to explore the vivid soundscape of the festival, and the relationship between music, political protest and Moroccan immigration.

Full interviews (in English and Spanish) with Juan Pinilla, a flamenco singer and Granada abierta supporter, can be found on our YouTube channel.

I would like to thank Juan Pinilla, Suhail Serghini, Francisco Vigueras Roldán and Kamal al-Nawawi for their help with this research.



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