Hearing and Seeing Music in Early 20th Century Colonial Algeria
Stephen Wilford (University of Cambridge)
Postcards played an important role throughout the first half of the 20th century in French-ruled Algeria, offering a fast and affordable means of communication between North Africa and Europe for French citizens working and travelling in the Maghreb. Alongside depictions of beautiful scenery and highly exoticized subjects, a large body of postcards portrayed musicians, musical instruments and musical performances. This exhibition explores how these postcards shaped French understandings of Algerian music and Algerian culture more broadly. Algerian musicians were unlikely to appear on public radio broadcasts in France during this period, and these small, inexpensive, mass-produced images thus provided the way in which much of the French public would encounter Algerian music.
Stephen Wilford is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, Popular Music and Sound Studies at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge. A member of the ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters Across the Strait of Gibraltar’ project, his work focuses upon musical and sonic interactions between Algeria and France, both historical and contemporary. He has published widely and is currently completing a monograph for Liverpool University Press, while co-editing volumes for the British Academy and Routledge. He is Treasurer of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and sits on committees for the Royal Anthropological Institute and Society for Ethnomusicology.