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Maps of Sorrow

Migration and Music in the Construction of Precolonial Afroasia

Sumangala Damodaran, Ari Sitas

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Maps of Sorrow

The book takes readers through the polycentric world of the pre-colonial period in Afroasia, which involved systems, processes and interactions that were interconnected through long-distance trade, slavery and migration. It was also punctuated by the movement of symbolic forms like music that were in deep interaction with local and regional contexts.  Music and musicality are primary entry points into uncovering the connections. The book weaves the story through a description of the travels of a fictional character, Garai, who traverses the Afroasian world in different periods, from Mapungubwe in southern Africa to northern Africa, southern Spain and India, and back to southern Africa. The historical and theoretical consequences of the research, and the methodological difficulties and breakthroughs it entails, are discussed. Different categories of music and associated communities of performers, which suggest historical connections around some of the routes of the Silk Road, Indian Ocean trade and other smaller routes, are identified and described.

Ari Sitas

Ari Sitas is a poet, dramatist, activist and sociologist. He was at the core of the transformation of Labour Studies, of popular and theatre work, and a range of cultural initiatives in South Africa. He has been awarded the highest honour bequeathed to South Africans for his scientific and creative work, the Order of Mapungubwe. In 2016, he was the inaugural Bhagat Singh Chair at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town and a Gutenberg Chair at the University of Strasbourg.

Sumangala Damodaran

Sumangala Damodaran is an academic at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) who works in the areas of Development Studies and Popular Music Studies. She is also a musician and composer who has archived and written about Indian resistance music traditions, and done collaborative performative and scholarly work on music with poets, musicians and academics. She has undertaken research and documentation of the musical tradition of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) from the 1940s and 1950s, and has performed extensively from the documented repertoire. She has also collaborated with poets and musicians from South Africa in a project titled 'Insurrections', and is currently engaged in researching the relationship between music and migration, particularly of women in slavery and servitude across centuries and across vast tracts of the globe that were linked through long-distance trade in commodities and symbolic goods. This is a collaborative project between scholars and musicians, and several universities, in Africa and Asia.