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The Gnawa Lions: Moroccan Ritual Music

Monday, April 8, 2019
4:30 pm
Shriver Center, Dolibois Room C

Guest lecture on Moroccan ritual trance music and culture. Reception to follow.

Dr. Witulski is an internationally recognized ethnomusicologist trained at the University of Florida’s College of Music and formerly affiliated with the Hochstein School of Music and Dance in Rochester, NY, as well as Florida State University. His first book, The Gnawa Lions: Authenticity and Opportunity in a Moroccan Ritual Music, was published in 2018 by Indiana University Press. The book is based on ethnographic fieldwork in Morocco among Gnawa musicians, black Moroccans who trace their heritage to formerly enslaved sub-Saharan Africans captured, sold, and brought across the Sahara Desert from West Africa. Their musical traditions include a healing trance ritual that lasts all night and involves immersive spirit possession and dancing. Witulski documents how this ritual context is being supplanted by a context of public performance on stage, and how the musicians continue to assert their cultural authenticity. Dr. Witulski’s second book, Music and Religion in Morocco (May 2019, Routledge), is a general review of musical forms and their interaction with faith traditions in Morocco. Dr. Witulski is interested in engaging students over Middle Eastern and African cultural traditions, non-Western musical performance, and legacies of exile and enslavement.

Christopher Witulski
Christopher Witulski
Instructor in Ethnomusicology, Bowling Green State University
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