Musical Exodus: Al-Andalus and Its Jewish Diasporas by Ruth F. Davis
Nearly eight centuries, starting from the Muslim conquest of Spain in 711 until the final expulsion of the Jews in 1492, Muslims, Jews and Christians shared a common Andalusian culture under alternating Muslim and Christian rule. Following their expulsion, the Spanish and Arabic- speaking Jews joined pre-existing diasporic communities and established new ones across the Mediterranean and beyond. In the twentieth century, radical social and political upheavals in the former Ottoman and European-occupied territories led to the mass exodus of Jews from Turkey and the Arab Mediterranean, the majority settling in Israel.
Following a trajectory from medieval Al-Andalus to present-day Israel via North Africa, Italy, Turkey and Syria, pausing for perspectives from Enlightenment Europe, Musical Exodus: Al-Andalus and its Jewish Diasporas tells of diverse song and instrumental traditions born of the multiple musical encounters between Jews and their Muslim and Christian neighbors in different Mediterranean diasporas, and of the revival and renewal of those traditions in present-day Israel. Through this collection of essays from Philip V. Bohlman, Daniel Jütte, Tony Langlois, Piergabriele Mancuso, John O’Connell, Vanessa Paloma, Carmel Raz, Dwight Reynolds, Edwin Seroussi, and Jonathan Shannon, with opening and closing contributions by Ruth F. Davis and Stephen Blum, this team of distinguished ethnomusicologists, cultural historians, linguists and performers explore from multidisciplinary perspectives the complex and diverse processes and conditions of intercultural and intracultural musical encounter in Al-Andalus and its Mediterranean Jewish diasporas. Individually and together the authors consider how musical traditions acquired new functions and meanings in different social, political and diasporic contexts, they explore the historic role of Jewish musicians as cultural intermediaries between the different faith communities, and they consider how music is implicated in projects of remembering and forgetting as societies come to terms with mass exodus by reconstructing their narratives of the past.
The essays in Musical Exodus: Al-Andalus and its Jewish Diasporas extend beyond the music of medieval Iberia and its Mediterranean Jewish diasporas to wider aspects of Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim relations, theories of musical interaction and hybridization and their cultural meanings, and musical expressions of diasporic and minority communities. They address how music is implicated in constructions of ethnicity and nationhood and of myth and history, and they interrogate the recent resurgence of Al-Andalus as a symbol of multicultural tolerance in musical projects that claim to promote cross-cultural understanding and peace. This work is a vital contribution to scholars of ethnomusicology, and of European and Jewish history.