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Maps of Sorrow

Migration and Music in the Construction of Pre-Colonial 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 trade, slavery and migration. It was also punctuated by the movement of symbolic forms like music, crafting long-distance aesthetic acuities and constellations that reflected the interconnections but were also in deep interaction with local and regional contexts. Music and musicality are primary entry points into uncovering these connections. Combining original research from a multi-institutional project titled ‘Recentring AfroAsia: Musical and Human Migrations, 700–1500 AD’ with conceptual analysis, the book weaves the story first through a chapter describing the travels of a fictional character, Garai, who traverses various parts of the AfroAsian world in different periods, from Mapungubwe in southern Africa to the distant worlds of northern Africa, southern Spain and India, and back to southern Africa. In two chapters that follow, readers are taken through the historical and theoretical consequences of this research, and the methodological difficulties and breakthroughs that the research entails. A fourth chapter identifies and describes the different categories of music and associated communities of performers that appear to suggest historical connections around some of the routes of the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean trade routes, and various other smaller, water-based or land-based routes, and the circumstances that resulted in their development.

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 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.