Cornell University

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CMS Seminar: “Policing the Virtuous: Music and Militias in Post-Gaddafi Libya”

Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Morrill Hall, 404
Cornell University Dept, 159 Central Avenue, Morrill Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA

In the years since 2011, political instability and shifts in militia governance have meant that musicians living and working in Libya encounter policing structures of varied forms in their daily lives. With no prevailing legal regime active in the country, those performing policing functions have frequently drawn on Islamic moral discourses to justify arrests, detentions, checkpoint stops, and other actions. This presentation takes a performance studies approach to instances of quotidian policing of music and their subversions in post-Gaddafi Libya in which actors make reference to religiosity or assumedly shared notions of virtue related to Islam. In so doing, I offer a critique of reigning frameworks which address the intersections of “music and Islam” while suggesting interdisciplinary methods through which the quotidian complexities of these intersections might be more substantively addressed. Weaving performance ethnography with a framework drawn from Islamic studies and performance studies, I illustrate how instances of quotidian policing are scenarios of social drama which both produce and are formulated through competing conceptualizations of Islam and of music, leveraging broad claims which then prescribe or predict possible action within the scenario. 

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Anthropology, Government, Music, Comparative Muslim Societies Program, Global Learning, Institute for African Development, Global Cornell

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Eric Tagliacozzo


Leila Tayeb

Speaker Affiliation

Stanford H. Taylor Postdoc in Music and Islam in the Contemporary World, Music, Cornell University

Disability Access Information

Building is wheelchair accessible

Open To

Free and Open to Public

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